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Archers top with 10 gold, four silver

12th South Asian Games in Shillong

Shillong : Indians bagged all the five gold medals up for grabs in the recurve event along with two more silver to make a clean sweep of the archery competition in the 12th South Asian Games here today.

Having claimed men, women and mixed pair team gold in the morning session, the recurve archers bagged two gold and as many silver in the all-Indian final in the afternoon to sign off in style with a maximum possible of 10 gold and four silver in total.

Making a comeback after the 2014 Asian Games, Tarundeep Rai retained his SA Games individual title to finish with a hattrick of gold along with Deepika Kumari as the duo also bagged the mixed pair and their respective team events.

The two-time Olympian Rai, who had bagged the SA Games gold in 2010, held nerve under pressure to down his Army colleague Gurucharan Besra 6-2 in the individual final.

Up 4-2 after three sets, Rai shot 19 (10-9) in his first two set of arrows, while Besra also shot an identical 19 (9-10) as the former needed a Perfect 10 under windy conditions at the Polo Grounds.

Showing nerves of steel, Rai was bang on target to clinch the fourth set 29-28 en route to retaining his gold as Besra had to settle for a silver.

“It’s difficult to assess the wind conditions, but it was my day. The medal means a lot to me as it has given me a perfect start in the Olympic year,” Rai told PTI.

Deepika began with a poor five to lose the first set but she bounced back to win second, third and fifth sets for a 6-4 win against Bombayla Devi Laishram in an intense women’s individual final.

Deepika had earlier in the day won the women’s team gold with Laxmirani Majhi and Bombayala, and mixed pair with Rai.

The trio shot below par scores but it was enough for them to blank their misfiring Sri Lankan opponents 6-0 to open their tally in recurve.

“Wind was circulating inside the stadium and it was getting difficult to adjust to get a Perfect 10. Thankfully it was easy for us,” Deepika told PTI after the win.

Men’s team followed suit with a 5-1 win in what seemed a one-sided final in three sets but the scoreline did not reflect the stiff challenge Rai, Besra and Jayanta Talukdar faced from their Lankan rivals.

While Rai and Talukdar were not in their elements, it was Besra who continued his dream comeback run and made all the difference with their one-point and two-point wins in the first and decisive third set.

India’s mixed pair of Rai and Deepika added a second gold medal to their kitty, a third overall in recurve, as they had a 6-0 cakewalk against the Bangladeshi duo of Sojeb Shiek and Beauty Ray.

Earlier yesterday, the compound archers too signed off in style winning all the five golds on offer along with two silver medals.

Taking the newly-included compound section into account, India’s final medal tally in archery at the 12th edition of the Games was a maximum of 10 gold and four silver medals as they did not lose a match.

The women’s final was a complete mismatch as the Sri Lankan team suffered a time-out in the first set with Indranath, who was shooting second behind Nirpuna Senevirathne, was terrible.

Such wayward Indranath was that she shot 4 and 3 something that led to a time-out set as Indians despite shooting a poor 51 took home a 2-0 lead in the first set.

It got worse for Indranath as she then missed the target twice drawing two zeroes as India wrapped the issue 6-0 with below-par scores of 53 and 52 in the second and third sets.

Indian women’s team had just two perfect 10s one each from Deepika and Laxmirani but it hardly mattered in a lopsided contest.

Individual champion in the Dhaka SA Games, Rai started the proceedings for India with a poor 8 as the trio totalled 23 against Lankan’s 27 (9-8-10).

But still they managed to overcome Lankans 52-51 with 10-10-9 in the second end where the rivals shot 8-8-8.

Indians almost lost the second set before Besra made all the difference with his perfect 10 to level 53-53 to create pressure on the Lankans.

Senior Army archer Besra, who was making an international comeback after 2001, shot another perfect 10 in the third set as India beat the Sri Lanka 55-53 to win the gold 6-0.

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