Vennam, Verma prevent complete Korean sweep with Asian mixed team title

Jyothi Surekha Vennam and Abhishek Verma upset a second-seeded squad from Chinese Taipei in the compound mixed team event, taking a lone gold medal away from Korea, at the 2019 Asian Archery Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.

Vennam and Verma were competing under a neutral flag due to the current suspension of the Archery Association of India.

“It is good because we clinched gold, that’s a good sign for the whole team. We did very well because our previous match scores were 159 out of 160, here it was 158. It’s a satisfying score,” said Abhishek.

Twenty-three-year-old Jyothi did not drop a point in the final.

It was the last match of the tournament and a strong finish from a squad – unable to compete under national colours – that picked up seven medals in total. (One gold, two silver and four bronze.)

“It doesn’t matter what is the colour of the medal, it’s a matter of you working hard,” added Verma. “We are satisfied with our performance and happy with that.”

Korea won the other four compound medals in Bangkok, adding that haul to the five collected over the morning’s recurve finals session.

Choi Yonghee beat Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Day in the compound men’s final and then Seol Dayeong upset her world-number-six-ranked teammate So Chaewon to win the compound women’s title.

“This is the first Asian Championships title for me, so it means a lot – but actually all victories are meaningful for me,” said Yonghee.

The 34-year-old faced a somewhat unexpected finalist in, who had qualified in 25th but done good work in the eliminations to make a run at the gold medal match. Yonghee led the final, however, from beginning to end. He won it, 145-141.

Gold medallist Yonghee has shot with Korea’s international squad since the leading recurve nation ventured into the compound bow around the time of the Asian Archery Championships in Bali in 2009. The Korean compounds are now almost as good – if not as good – as the recurves.

“I think that, of course, all countries, all teams around the world think that they are the best,” he said. “But we won the title at the world championships this year so we proved our ability, our potential. I think the Korean team is at the top level.”

Seol Dayeong, back on the team after a three-year hiatus, proved strong enough in Bangkok to upset mixed team World Archery Champion So Chaewon, 144-139. It brought her first major tournament win.

“Before the match, I thought our chances were about even but during the match, I felt I had about a 70% chance to win,” said Seol.

Chaewon did not perform to her usual level in the finals field, averaging just 9.2 points per arrow. Compared to Seol’s 9.6 over 15 arrows, that translated into a five-point loss.

“I’m honoured to be a champion, especially by beating teammate So Chaewon,” said Dayeong. “She’s the best in the world.”

Korea’s nine gold medals and 13 total podiums led all countries in the medal table at the 2019 Asian Archery Championships. The athletes competing under a neutral flag due to the suspension of the Indian federation were second with one gold and seven total medals.

China and Chinese Taipei both had two silvers and a bronze. Vietnam, DPR Korea, Iran and Kazakhstan also climbed the podium in Bangkok.

The 2019 Asian Archery Championships take place on 22-28 November in Bangkok, Thailand.

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