India dominates Asia Cup tournament in Iraq

The Indian team at the Asia Cup in Iraq.

An Indian youth side overcame nearly everyone else at the second leg of the Asia Cup in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, which concluded today.

In weather conditions that moved from humidity, through thunderstorms and downpours to wind and cold across two finals days, India won eight of the 10 available gold medals, taking three of the four individual titles, in the recurve men’s through Mrinal Chauhan, with compound men’s top-seed (697) Prathamesh Bhalchandra Fuge and thanks to Sakshi Chaudhary in the compound women’s competition.

Only the top-seeded (641) Iranian recurve woman, Mahta Abdollahi, and Uzbekistan’s recurve mixed team – via a 19-18 shoot-off victory against India – were able to prevent an clean sweep for India in northern Iraq.

“My experience has been amazing,” said India’s Chauhan, who won gold in both the recurve men’s individual and team events. “I’m feeling very happy. It’s my first time playing internationals but I just followed my process and that is all.”

Sixth-seed Chauhan beat Olympian and world medallist Ruman Shana in the final, 6-2, after the Bangladeshi archer had toppled the number one seed, Uzbekistan’s Amirkhan Sadikov, in straight sets in the semifinals.

For her gold, Abdollahi took out India’s Bhajan Kaur, 6-2, in the final after seeing off another Bangladeshi Olympian, Diya Siddique, 6-4 in the final four.

Iran's Mahta ABDOLLAHI in action at Stage Two of the 2022 Asia Cup in Iraq

Prathamesh Bhalchandra Fuge shot a 147 on his way to the compound men’s final, eventually defeating teammate Yadav Rishabh, 146-144, in the final. It was another all-Indian gold medal match in the compound women’s event as Chaudhary beat Parneet Kaur, 140-138.

Despite her individual loss, top-seed (690) and under-18 world record holder Kaur did collect a gold medal – twice, in fact, winning the compound women’s team and mixed team competitions.

“It was very difficult to shoot in these conditions but we tried our best,” said Kaur.

“It was cold, it was sunny. We just shot with the right mindset and tried to perform our best in these conditions and weather. We also practise in these conditions so as to perform well, but the standard was very good and it was amazing coming over here and competing.”

In its own words, the Archery Association of India sent a junior squad to Iraq, with their contingent consisting entirely of archers aged under 20.

While competition was tight, notable teams were missing, with Korea, China, Japan and Chinese Taipei – among others – not sending squads as they prepare for the second stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup next week in Korea. Many Asian countries are also readjusting their calendars, and priorities for the year, following the announcement this week that this year’s Asian Games will be postponed.

Champions:  Sulaymaniyah 2022

Medal table: Sulaymaniyah 2022

1. IND flag India: 14 (8 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze)
2. UZB flag Uzbekistan: 3 (1 gold, 2 silver)
3. IRI flag Iran: 2 (1 gold, 1 bronze)
4. BAN flag Bangladesh: 8 (4 silver, 4 bronze)
5. KAZ flag Kazakhstan: 3 (2 silver, 1 bronze)

A total of 30 medals (10 gold, 10 silver, 10 bronze) were collected by athletes representing five countries in Sulaymaniyah.