Yakup Yildiz delivers two gold medals for host nation Turkey
The 18-year-old won the individual title in the compound men’s event over Denmark’s Mathias Fullerton and guided his teammates in the compound men’s team final over France, continuing a tremendous tournament for the host country that claimed two Olympic quota places yesterday.
“After the team gold, it’s perfect to have this medal, too,” Yildiz said. “I feel really proud. It’s a really great thing to have this medal at my age. I’m so happy right now, I can’t even explain it.”
Yildiz’s victory over fellow 18-year-old Fullerton, 143-141, spoiled Denmark’s attempt at an individual gold medal sweep following Tanja Gellenthien’s second big international win of the season.
Having taken gold at the second stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne and finishing as runner-up at stage one in Guatemala City, top-seeded Gellenthien dominated the second seed, Ella Gibson of Great Britain, 147-141, in the compound women’s final to put her series of second-place finishes firmly behind her.
“I feel amazing. I was shooting really well this morning, so I was just hoping I could take it on there to the finals field,” Gellenthien said. “I knew it was going to be a little windy and a little tricky, but I'm really happy with how it came out.”
Gellenthien started her match strong and only got better as the afternoon progressed, opening with three 29s before finishing with two perfect ends of 30 points.
Gibson, enlisting the help of the world’s number-one-ranked compound man, Mike Schloesser of the Netherlands, as her coach as the British team is without support staff in Turkey due to travel restrictions, shot admirably in her first-career international final, but she was unable to match the impressive consistency on display this season from Gellenthien.
“I wanted it really badly,” the winner said. “I work a lot on my shot and what to do in matches like this. I’m really happy that I can actually do it when it comes down to it.”
The wind played a factor throughout the day. It was Tanja who handled the tricky conditions best.
Compound men’s winner Yildiz began his day with a gold medal in the compound men’s team final, guiding Turkey to a decisive victory over France, 225-219.
Also the winners of the gold medal at the recent stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne, Yildiz with Evren Cagiran and Furkan Oruc defeated Quentin Baraer, Nicolas Girard and Adrien Gontier to continue that success on home soil.
“We feel proud. It was so important that we took the gold medal in this European Championships,” Yildiz said. “We proved that we are the best in the world. We are even more proud of this moment.”
Both teams struggled against the blustering wind, submitting scores of 53 points apiece in the first end, but Turkey responded with a perfect 60 in the second to seize a lead that only grew as the match progressed. Seemingly gaining confidence with every tournament, Turkey likely enters the third and final stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit as the favourites to win in Paris.
“We always believed we were going to win,” Cagiran said. “With our score, we are the best team in the world. It’s not a surprise for us.”
France beat the Netherlands, 224-216, in the compound women’s team final to improve on its bronze medal finish in Lausanne.
“I’m really happy to start with two medals at my first two competitions,” said Lola Grandjean, who made her debut with the senior squad in Lausanne. “I’m so proud of my teammates, and myself. It’s so cool.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was delivered by Belgium when its compound mixed team ascended from a 12th seed to win a gold medal match shoot-off against Estonia. Reginald Kools and Sarah Prieels completed a comeback over sibling duo Robin and Lisell Jaatma by both shooting 10s in a tiebreak.
“Qualifying doesn’t really matter in the end,” Prieels said. “You just have to shoot good matches and beat every opponent by a point. It doesn’t really matter where you’ve qualified.”
Competition continues in Antalya with the recurve finals on Sunday.