Abhishek Verma books ticket to World Cup Final with gold in Paris

Abhishek Verma shoots at the third stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Paris.

India’s Abhishek Verma beat the USA’s Kris Schaff in a thrilling tiebreak on Saturday to win the compound men’s event at the third stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Paris, France.

It secured Verma an automatic bid to this year’s Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in his one-and-only shot to win it, while Schaff will attend the season-ending event as a points qualifier. World number one Mike Schloesser of the Netherlands took bronze to make his third podium of the season.

“I am feeling excited,” Verma said. “We waited for a long time, almost two years, and now we come back with a great victory. It’s very good for me and good for the country also.”

Paris marked the return to action of India’s compound archers on the international circuit, having missed the first two stages of the year and the cancellation of last season. The seventh seed after qualification, Verma beat Russia’s Anton Bulaev comfortably, 146-138, in his semifinal on Saturday, finishing with two perfect ends to position himself in the gold medal match against Schaff.

The momentum carried through with three perfect ends to start, giving Verma a two-point lead and the noticeable confidence to finish strong. But Schaff made things interesting, capitalising on a pair of 29s by the Indian 32-year-old to tie the match and force a tiebreak with two perfect 30s of his own.

Schaff shot first in the tiebreak, hitting a wide nine, low and left, with his attempt.

Verma regained his form from earlier in the match to hit the centre and take the gold. 

“That is the name of archery: sometimes you miss, and sometimes you hit,” Verma said. “For that time, I just managed myself, controlled my increasing heart rate and so many things in my mind. I told myself to calm down and focus on my shooting, and I did.”

I think that pressure affected me in a positive way,” he continued. “I think it was good for me.”

Verma now has three individual Hyundai Archery World Cup podiums to his name after winning silver in Salt Lake City in 2018 and gold in Wroclaw in 2015. He also won bronze and silver medallist at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in 2018 and 2015, respectively.

Despite the long competition hiatus, Verma has contributed a third individual title to India’s haul so far this season.

Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari each won recurve golds at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City – and Kumari will shoot for her second of the year when she takes to the field in the recurve final fours on Sunday in Paris.