Returning from a prolonged layoff, defending champion Tarundeep Rai produced his best along with country’s Olympic hope Deepika Kumari to top their respective qualification rounds as India reigned supreme in recurve archery competitions of the 12th South Asian Games at Shillong on Friday.
India also topped in the compound section with Abhishek Verma and Purvasha Shende claiming the honours in men’s and women’s sections respectively.
Following the Asian Games protocol, two archers from each country made the cut into the elimination round as India’s Olympian archer Jayanta Talukdar made an exit with promising Army archer Gurucharan Besra (666 points) making the last-16 along with topper Tarundeep, who logged 676.
The next best was Bangladeshi Sojeb Shiek who had a score of 653 to finish third in the men’s recurve. Having finished top two, the Indian duo will get a bye into the quarters as they also topped the team event along with Jayanta Talukdar, as the hosts will get a bye into the semifinals of the team event which has a draw of eight.
In women’s recurve, former world No 1 Deepika finised top along with Bombayla Devi with scores of 668 and 646, respectively.
However, there was disappointment for reigning champions India as they had to be content with a goalless draw against Maldives in women’s football, the only other discipline that kicked off the Shillong leg of the SAG here. Nepal, meanwhile, shocked Bangladesh 3-0 in women’s football to top the group.
The Indian women dominated the proceedings but could not find a goal against Maldives.
“It’s disappointing. We could not capitalise on our chances. We did not expect this but we must give credit to their defence which stood out,” India coach Sajid Yousuf Dar said.
It was a moral victory for the Maldives. “It was tough playing in the severe cold and some of our players had breathing problems, but our defence stood out,” said Maldives’ coach Naoko Kawamoto.