Berlin: Aditi Swami on Saturday became the youngest-ever senior world champion at 17 years when she secured India’s first-ever individual title at the World Archery Championships with women’s compound gold here.
Later in the day, Ojas Deotale also became the world champion when he bagged the compound men’s title with a sheer perfect score of 150 as India recorded their best ever finish in the showpiece with four medals — three gold and one bronze.
A calm and composed Deotale, who hails from Nagpur in Maharashtra, defeated Lukasz Przybylski of Poland by one point in a thrilling finish en route to the men’s title.
The Olympic discipline recurve archers, on the other hand, came a cropper, returning empty-handed.
Incidentally, both Aditi and Deotale train at the same academy in Satara under coach Pravin Sawant.
Hailing from Maharashtra’s drought-prone Satara, Aditi shot a near perfect score of 149 out of a possible 150 points to prevail over Andrea Becerra of Mexico by two points.
The class 12 student also became a double world champion in less than two months, having won the Under-18 title in Youth Championships in Limerick, Ireland on July 8.
She is now the first individual world champion in archery from India, across any discipline and gender.
— World Archery (@worldarchery) August 5, 2023
Aditi along with Parneet Kaur and Jyothi Surekha Vennam had secured India’s first ever World Archery Championships gold by winning the compound women’s team final on Friday.
In the individual final, Aditi was up against the Mexican giantkiller, the 16th seed, who had knocked out reigning champion Sara Lopez in the pre-quarterfinals.
But Andrea faced a tougher challenge against the Indian sixth seed who started off with a bang, drilling in all her first three arrows closer to the centre (X) to take a 30-29 first round lead.
Aditi was on target in all of her 12 arrows in the first four rounds to extend her lead by three points.
It was only in the final end, she shot one 9 out of the three arrows, but by then she had already sealed India’s second World Championship gold ever.
Aditi earlier defeated the Netherlands’ Sanne De Laat in a tense quarterfinal shoot-off and came up against her idol and senior teammate Jyothi Surekha Vennam in the semifinals, who was hoping to upgrade to gold, having won bronze in 2019 and silver in 2021.
But she ousted her ‘idol’ and the most successful Indian compound archer Jyothi 149-145 in an all-Indian semifinal.
Aditi was simply unbeatable on a day where she dropped just four points, including scores of 149 in both her semifinal and final contests, shooting four consecutive ends of 30 in the final.
“Bas India ke pehla liye gold jitna tha, aur kuchh soch dimag mein nahin aaya (I was just focused on winning the first gold for the country),” Aditi told PTI.
“I knew she was very experienced and someone whom I grew up watching and idolising but I just kept my focus on my shooting, rest just fell in place.
“I am very proud, I wanted to hear the 52 seconds of the national anthem to be played at the World Championships. This is just the start. We have the Asian Games coming up, I want to win gold for the country and continue to win team gold for the country.
“It is really great that at 17, I could become the world champion. I want to thank all my supporters and everyone in India who helped me become the world champion.” Jyothi, however, went on to win a bronze medal when she shot a perfect 150 to defeat Ipek Tomruk of Turkey by four points in the third-place playoff.
“It’s not much of disappointment, though. Afterall, I could win a gold — in team event — this time,” Jyothi, who now has one gold, four silver and three bronze medals from three editions of the World Archery Championships, said.
Later in the afternoon session, Deotale gave the icing on the cake by becoming the men’s compound world champion.
In an end-to-end shooting, both Deotale and his Polish rival were locked 90-all after three ends (nine arrows).
Deotale continued his perfect 10-hitting spree and made it 150 out of 150 as Przybylski crumbled under pressure and dropped a point to settle for the silver.
“It’s no fluke and a result of strong team work, focus on sports science and 100 per cent faith on our technical team,” Archery Association of India secretary general Pramod Chandurkar told PTI.
With Asian Games coming up in two months’ time, this would give the sport a huge boost, he said.
“We are expecting at least four medals from the Asian Games. It’s a big moment for Indian archery.”