It’s been an eventful year so far for Jyothi Surekha Vennam, one of India’s best compound archers. Last month, she teamed up with Abhishek Verma to win bronze at the Archery World Cup (Stage 1) in Shanghai. Barely two weeks later, she announced that she would go on an indefinite hunger strike in her hometown Vijayawada, due to the alleged delay in payment of Rs 1 crore promised to her by the Andhra Pradesh government, after she received the Arjuna Award for 2017. The 21-year-old, however, called off the strike after receiving assurances from government officials. The off-field distraction did little to dampen Jyothi’s spirits though, especially in the run-up to the ongoing World Cup (Stage 2) in Antalya.
The young archer continued her impressive form and found the cool and windy climes in Antalya much to her liking. Consequently, she was instrumental in India’s compound team clinching two medals at the showpiece event at this pristine beachside town. First up on Friday, she combined with Divya Dhayal and Muskan Kirar to win silver in the women’s team event. They went down to Chinese Taipei 228-231 in a close final.
Chinese Taipei registered scores of 59, 58, and a brace of 57s in their four sets. In response, India put up a stellar show, notching up scores of 57, 55, 59 and 57. One of Divya’s shots in the second set could muster just 7 points, costing the Indians dear.
Jiwanjot Singh, the coach of the compound team, however, dwelled on the positives. “It was a closely fought game… just look at the scores. Just one average shot in the second set by Divya was the difference, otherwise we were on course. Even under pressure, we had managed to score 59 in the third set, so that says a lot about the girls,” he explained.
Singh added that Jyothi’s role in the middle was crucial. “Her presence definitely helped, because others were relatively inexperienced, while Jyothi was in good form and had won a medal for us at the last World Cup. So, she knew what was expected from her in this important match.”
After medalling in the final of the women’s event, Jyothi teamed up, once again, with Verma to beat the Belgian duo of Sarah Prieels and Reginald Kools, to win bronze in the mixed event. This was the compound team’s second successive bronze in this event in the World Cups this year. India scored 158-155 (out of 160) — their best effort till date.
The twin medal haul for the compound archers puts the team in a good frame of mind ahead of the Asian Games. An elated Verma put it succinctly on Whatsapp after the win. “Everything just fell in place for us in the final. Having our coach watching us from close quarters helped us as well. We are really happy with the scores we have achieved, and even though the colour of our medal is bronze, we are not complaining. It gives us confidence in the run-up to the Asian Games.”
Winning these medals will not be the only takeaways for Jyothi. On a personal level, she also broke the individual national record during the qualification round, where she scored a stunning 706 (out of 720).
In doing so, she even bettered the personal best of Abhishek Verma’s 705 he had achieved in this tournament. “She was off to a phenomenal start here. Her personal best put her in second spot in the individual rankings,” Singh said. From winning three medals from the two World Cups, breaking the individual national record, and then climbing to the second spot in rankings, 2018 just keeps getting better for the archer from Vijayawada. Her team will be hoping that she carries this form into the Asian Games, which begins in over two months.
Too close for comfort for recurve archers
In contrast, India’s recurve archers have had a pretty tepid run in Turkey so far after both the men’s and mixed teams bowed out in the quarterfinals. The loss of the men’s team comprising Atanu Das, newbie Sukhchain Singh and Jagdish Chowdhury, to China was a staid affair. What would have left them gutted was the narrow loss in the quarters of the mixed team event against Japan. The team comprising Deepika Kumari and Atanu Das took the early lead, but the Japanese restored parity to take the duel into a shootout. Even as both teams registered a 10-9 score, Japan prevailed because their arrows were closer to the centre..
Today’s schedule: Women’s recurve event final: (India vs Taipei 1.30 pm IST)