Current world no. 22 Abhishek Verma stunned world no.5 Kris Schaff in a shoot-off to claim India’s first medal at the ongoing Archery World Cup 2021 Stage 3 in Paris.
Two-time Asian champion Abhishek Verma got off to a comfortable start after beating Britain’s Matthew Wong, Italy’s Sergio Pagni, Puerto Rico’s Jean Pizarro and Denmark’s Martin Laursen in the knockout stages.
He then registered a 146-138 semi-final win over Russia’s Anton Bulaev. Abhishek Verma’s victory over Anton Bulaev marked his first World Cup final entry since Salt Lake City in 2018, where he bagged a silver medal.
READ: Archery World Cup Stage 3: Indian recurve women assured of medal, to meet Mexico in final
Seeded no.11 in the tournament, the Indian compound archer met the American heavyweight Kris Schaff in the gold medal match. In a thrilling final clash, the 32-year-old Indian started with three Xs, hitting perfect 10s and continuing the splendid run till the third end, to lead by a two-point margin.
The American bounced back and mounted pressure on Abhishek Verma, who eventually dropped two points, leading to the scores being tied at 148-148 at the end of the regulation five rounds.
The gold medal match went into a shoot-off that saw Schaff start the round with a nine. A rather composed Abhishek Verma responded with a perfect 10 to clinch the contest in style.
“That’s archery, it’s all about hits and misses. My heart beat went up so I just calmed myself down and kept my focus on the next arrow,” said Verma after bagging gold in an intense final match. This compound victory in Paris is Abhishek’s second individual World Cup gold medal, first only after the 2015 World Cup Stage 3 victory in Wroclaw.
More golds after Abhishek Verma?
Indian archers will be on the hunt for three more medals in women’s recurve team, the recurve mixed team and women’s individual events on Sunday, and Tokyo-bound Deepika Kumari will be part of all three campaigns.
The Indian women’s recurve team comprising Deepika Kumari, Komalika Bari and Ankita Bhakat, reached the final of the women’s recurve team event at the ongoing Archery World Cup Stage 3 in Paris on Friday. The Indian trio will be up against Mexico for the gold medal. Abhishek Verma’s result will come as a positive boost for the Indians, who head to Tokyo Olympics with a lot of hope.