Jyothi Surekha Vennam-Abhishek Verma has created a slice of history for Indian sport, winning the country’s first-ever archery medal at the World Games, winning bronze in the compound mixed team event at the 2022 edition of the tournament in Birmingham, USA, on Saturday.
This is India’s fifth medal at the World Games.
The World Games – considered the Olympics for non-Olympic sports – are held in Alabama, USA. Compound archery is not part of the Olympic Games as it stands.
Jyothi and Abhishek cruised to a 157-156 bronze medal playoff victory over Mexico. They were the top seeds in the event after the qualifying rounds, but lost in the semi-finals to Colombia, who would go on to win the gold medal. India beat New Zealand in the first round.
In a game with very nice margins, Jyothi and Abhishek started with a perfect 40 to take a point lead but shot 38 on the next end while Mexico’s Andrea Becerra and Miguel Becerra shot 39 and 39 to maintain level after eight arrows.
The third end saw India take a one-point lead. And with all four archers registering perfect scores in the final end, it turned out to be the turning point.
In the individual event, Abhishek Verma finished fourth after losses in the semifinals and in the bronze medal playoff.
He was stormed into the men’s compound archery semi-finals by astonishing world No. 1 and former world champion Mike Schloesser in the quarter-finals.
But on the day of the medal round, the veteran Indian archer couldn’t find his best rhythm. In the semi-final, he lost 141-143 to Jean Philippe Boulch of France. In the bronze medal match, he was up against Christopher Perkins and trailed by one point until the last set of arrows. But in the last end, he lost the rhythm again and the Canadian won 148-145.
With four members in the Indian archery contingent, they had a shot for two medals and came close to winning both. Jyothi had lost in the quarterfinals to Toja Ellison.
“The first medal is always very special,” she told World Archery. “We are very happy. It was a draw and we didn’t know who would win until the last arrow. We just concentrated to shoot our best.
For Abhishek, the heights of a victory over the world No. 1 were brought down by two disappointing matches in the individual event. But he managed to bounce back with Jyothi.
“Finally I have a medal,” he said. “Today was a bad day for me. You could see I wasn’t shooting well, but we did it as a mixed team. I’m happy not to go home without a medal.”