Country’s top archery couple Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari battled heavy winds to storm into their respective semi-finals of the recurve section as India continued to make giant strides in the World Cup Stage 1 in Guatemala City.
Returning to the World Cup after almost two years, Das and Deepika, who got married last year, also paired up to advance to the bronze playoff in the recurve mixed event on Thursday night to keep India in the hunt for five medals.
Defying severe winds at the Sports Complex Los Arcos here, Deepika, who qualified as the number three seed, displayed some incredible shooting to down German archer Michelle Kroppen in straight sets.
The former world number one drilled volleys of 29, 30 and 30 points. While the rest of the field struggled with the breeze, Deepika shot fast and confidently on her way to an easy win.
“I had too many thoughts in my mind, and all I wanted to do was to concentrate, to focus and control my mind. I know I can do better. My first match wasn’t that good, and I feel like I didn’t give it all,” she said.
“I feel so nervous still, but good as well. I’m happy because I’m finally competing. We waited one-and-a-half years for this, and we’re finally here,” she added.
The world number nine, who is the highest seed remaining in the draw, will next face Alejandra Valencia of Mexico in her quest for a gold medal on Sunday.
— World Archery (@worldarchery) April 22, 2021
The sole archer to qualifier for the Olympics so far, Deepika has won two stages of the World Cup — once in Antalya, Turkey in 2012 and the other in Salt Lake City, USA in 2018 — besides making the podium thrice at the World Cup Finals.
Deepika had earlier defeated Kelsey Lard of the USA 6-0 in round two and overcame London Olympics silver medallist Aida Roman of Mexico in the shootoff 6-5 (10-9).
Meanwhile, Das was a bit lucky in the quarter-final as his Candian rival Eric Peters had a miss in the last set as the Indian wrapped it up 6-4 to keep himself in line for his first ever individual podium.
His previous best was a fourth-place finish in Antalya in 2016.
He will face Alvardo in his first match on Sunday for a chance to contest for gold.
Das, who qualified straight to the round of 32 after finishing second in the rankings round, defeated Oscar Ticas of El Salvador 6-4 first up before ousting his teammate Pravin Jadhav by an identical scoreline to make the last-four.
“I’m feeling good because everyone was wondering when international competition was going to start. It has started and for me it is a good start. I’m working on myself, on my mental side and I think this is helping me a lot to perform well,” Das said.
Seeded second in the mixed pair event, the duo of Das and Deepika defeated Spain in straight sets to make the semifinal but only to falter against Mexico in the shootoff after the scores were tied 4-4.
They will take on the top-seeded USA duo of Brady Ellison and Casey Kaufhold in Sunday’s bronze playoff.
There was a heartbreak in store for Ankita Bhakat in the recurve quarter-final as the second seed Indian lost to Alejandra 6-2.
India also remain in the hunt for medals in the men’s and women’s team events after advancing to the quarterfinals in both.
India are playing in the World Cup circuit for the first time after their appearance in the Stage 4 in Berlin in July 2019.