Jyothi Surekha Vennam collects third silver of world championships

Jyothi Surekha Vennam shoots at the Yankton 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships.

Jyothi Surekha Vennam's march up the podium continued on Saturday at the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships in Yankton

The compound woman from India collected her third silver medal of the week, reaching the gold medal match in the individual event before succumbing to Colombia’s Sara Lopez, who added the elusive world title that had been missing from her otherwise storied career.

That sense of desire is a feeling Vennam and her native country is becoming increasingly familiar with, as India continues to come agonisingly close to securing its first-ever title at a world championship event. 

Facing Lopez for the third time in this tournament, Vennam lost to the world number three yet again on Saturday, 146-144. The promising archer left with silver twice the day before – in the compound mixed and women’s team events – when Indian teams lost to Colombia in both finals matches. 

“I’m happy because I made it to the final in all three areas, but a little disappointed because I couldn’t perform my best in the individual event,” said Vennam, who also won individual bronze at the 2019 world championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch.

“This time it’s a change to silver, so I’m happy regarding that because I got to step ahead in life, but a little unhappy because I couldn't make it to the goal. I think it’s okay. It’s part of the game, winning and losing.”

Jyothi Surekha Vennam shoots at the Yankton 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships.

India is under the microscope as it advances closer and closer to the top step on the podium. 

The passionate archery nation has collected the most world medals of any country to have never won a world title, appearing in nine title matches and leaving with the silver each time, as well as winning two bronze medals. 

Vennam, for her part, has now climbed the podium six times at the world championships, collecting four silvers and two bronzes. 

On top of the three silvers here in Yankton, she won two bronze medals in 2019 (compound women’s and compound individual) and a silver in 2017 (compound women’s team).

She also, notably, delivered a perfect score of 150 in her quarterfinal against Amanda Mlinaric of Croatia on Saturday, establishing her intention of challenging for the day’s top prize. 

But Lopez then responded with a perfect score of her own in the semifinals, setting up a third date between India and powerhouse Colombia that eventually resulted in the favourite’s… well, favour.

It’s just the nature of the sport, Vennam said. This year may have belonged to Lopez and Colombia, but she and India held strong until the very end, as the world number 13 closed with three 10s, despite finishing the match in defeat. 

“I was just focusing on my process and my shooting, rather than focusing on what was happening,” Vennam said. “I just wanted to finish my best.”

Jyothi Surekha Vennam shoots at the Yankton 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships.

Vennam cautioned patience when asked about the bittersweetness of second place.

There is value in gaining experience on the finals stage – and collecting silver after earning bronze two years before is an undeniable improvement.

“I think experience matters a lot, because you may face the same situation again, in any other tournament,” she said. “That way you can do even better than what you did before. So, yes, we have to take it all in and note it down and just, you know, use it when needed in future.”

For now, Vennam’s pursuit of a world title – for herself, and for India – remains incomplete. But the 25-year-old can find solace in the incremental nature of her pursuit. 

While she entered the day hoping for gold, acquiring three silvers is a phenomenal display of progress – and consistency.

“I think the right time has to come if you want to win a title, especially a world title,” Vennam said. “I think a bit of luck also matters, but it’s okay. Maybe next time. I’m just going to wait and see what’s in store.”

Competition at the world championships concludes with recurve finals on Sunday.