Vennam impresses in return to international duty

Jyothi Surekha Vennam under her sun umbrella in Paris.

It was a shock when world championship runner-up Jyothi Surekha Vennam didn’t make the Indian team early this season.

She had risen to a high of fourth in the world rankings following her silver medal in Yankton – and just become the first compound woman to ever shoot a televised perfect match. (Interestingly, she’s now third because of how ranking points depreciate over time.)

While her male compatriots won back-to-back stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya and Gwangju to open the year, India’s compound women haven’t delivered much without Vennam – save a lone team bronze at the second stage.

With Jyothi back in the line-up, the team fell just short of collecting its second team podium of the season in the French capital, losing the bronze medal match this morning to the hosts. Vennam, though, seeded second individually.

“I was looking forward to Paris since I got selected with the team,” she said after qualifying. “I think I could have two or three points more but it’s okay. I’m happy with 705.”

The score was only two points away from a career-best for Vennam. She managed 706 back in 2018.

It’s a stark and fast turnaround for someone who, despite being the Indian national champion, sat home as her teammates travelled through the first two months of this season.

“I’m just focused on shooting my best,” said Vennam. “If I perform well, I shoot good and so I can be satisfied.”

Vennam has two events left to shoot in Paris.

She enters the individual competition as the second seed, with eliminations running on Thursday afternoon, and the mixed team event – with Abhishek Verma – as third qualifiers and one of the undeniable favourites on Friday morning.

(Abhishek shot a career-best of 711 during qualification yesterday – his birthday.)

“We try to keep up with the expectations and I think we are shooting good,” she said.

Jyothi might be late to the circuit this season but she’s still got plenty of time and, apparently, the form to make a mark.

The timing couldn’t be better. As well as returning to the Indian team for the Hyundai Archery World Cup, she’s now scheduled to travel to the USA next month with Abhishek, Muskan Kirar and Aman Saini to compete in the World Games.