Asian Games: Ojas-Jyothi turn arrows into gold in near-perfect final

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The Indian compound archery champions follow a simple process: Jyoti Surekha Vennam and Ojas Deotale step up to the shooting line, adjust their bows, sight the target, release the arrow, hit the center of the ring, step back, high-five their coach Sergio Pagni and Partner… and win gold.

Their process is a matter of routine, a sort of ritual, archers working on muscle memory. It looks like simple, it is anything but. Otherwise, all will win the mixed team gold at the Asian Games, as Jyoti and Ojs did on Wednesday, when they won by just one point; by an arrow at the end.

A day earlier, the pair had claimed their place in the individual finals in a dominating day for Indian compound archery, and they returned to the range less than 24 hours later nailing perfect ten after perfect ten.

There is a preconceived notion that compound archery is not as difficult because it has a more mechanical bow – there are levers and pulleys, a magnified sight and a release aid. Getting the perfect shot is much easier. But even with machines, the bow has to be drawn and sent in tiny circles for the perfect shot, each arrow under pressure and in the air. An arrow can be a make or break, an arrow on the outer edge of the inner circle can be the difference between a win and a loss.

And they were almost perfect:

  • Quarter-final against Malaysia – won 158-155

  • Semi-final against Kazakhstan – won 159-154

  • Final against South Korea – won 159-158

The Indians were no different in numbers, dominated by the Perfect 10 and the ever-present Pagani looking on. The final was against South Korea’s So Chaon and Joo Jahun; Archer Jyoti will face off in the final and archer Abhishek Verma will be defeated in the semi-final; Players in their own good touch.

But the Indians got off to a perfect start, making 80 out of 80 shots, giving them a one-point lead over Korea after an early 9. Then came the plot twist – the first 9 from Oz, who shot 150 out of 150 in the quarters and semifinals yesterday.

But Jyoti hit the target and the final level was at 99 after 100 arrows.

The pressure was on now as the Korean delivered a perfect 10 seconds and things were at 119 before the final over. Now, South Korea’s composite legacy isn’t as rich as Recurve’s, but they’re working on it. They brought their first international coach to Rio Wilde to boost their chances at the compound. Also, the Indians are the favourites, the world champions and the in-form duo.

Under pressure, however, the South Koreans buckled; And so a 9 shot, giving India a small opening. The onus was now on India, and both Ojs and Jyoti found their mark perfectly on 159 – regaining a one-point lead and a first gold medal in the bag.

It was an important gold medal, the first of the lot they hope to win in Hangzhou so that they can get more support and backing in India. As an Olympic discipline, compound archery does not receive the same financial support as recurve, and Jyoti is keen to change that. He started right, the spotlight of a multi-sport event gave them the perfect platform for their sport

In the coming days, they will likely add finals to the men’s, women’s team and individual events. For now, this is a perfect start for Indian compound archery.

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