Kumari seals last-eight berth, ousts former world champion Russian Perova
(Sourced from PTI)
World number one archer Deepika Kumari held her nerves to pip former world champion Ksenia Perova of the Russian Olympic Committee in a thrilling one-arrow shoot-off to advance to the women's individual quarterfinals of the Olympic Games on Friday. Locked 5-5 after the regulation five-setter, the 27-year-old Indian delivered a perfect 10, hitting the bull's eye, to topple the Russian.
Starting off the one-arrow shoot-off, the Russian crumbled under pressure as she misfired a 7 while a composed Kumari sealed the issue 6-5 (10-7) without any fuss. For the three-time Olympian Kumari, this was her first win from three matches against the 2017 world champion as she became the first Indian to make the last-eight in an individual event of the Olympics.
In the quarterfinals, Kumari will face 20-year-old Korean top seed An San who bounced back from a set behind to oust local favorite Ren Hayakawa 6-4. The Korean, who had broken a 25-year-old Olympic record en route to topping the ranking round, displayed incredible shooting of three 10s in her last three arrows to set up a clash against the Indian.
Kumari had faced the Korean once earlier, in the final of the "Tokyo 2020 Test Event" at the same venue of Yumenoshima Park in 2019, and the Indian had lost to her younger opponent in straight sets. "Now it's going to be tougher and tougher ahead," said Kumari, who is chasing the country's first-ever Olympic medal in archery.
"I've to fight and shoot better. Right now, I need extra focus. I can't win if I'm nervous. I'm trying my best to regain my touch as quickly as possible," Kumari said of her nervy outing against the Russian. Notably, she had failed to close out after taking 4-2 and 5-3 lead in the third and fifth sets respectively.
"I'm really nervous. Yes, I started off well but it was all about Olympic pressure. It really became difficult (afterward) to find the yellow ring (that gives scores of either 9 or 10)," she said. Kumari had a flying start and raced to a 2-0 lead, drilling a perfect 10 in her second arrow as the experienced Russian faltered in the last arrow.
Kumari's husband Atanu Das is the only other Indian in contention for a medal as he made the pre-quarterfinals on Thursday with a stunning shoot-off win over two-time Olympic champion Oh Jin Hyek. "Obviously it boosted my morale. The pressure gets divided," Kumari said of her husband as the duo are the first Indian couple to take part in the same discipline.
In his last-16 match slated on Saturday, Das will face home favorite Takaharu Furukawa, an individual silver medallist at the 2012 Olympics and a team bronze winner here. Indian men's team and mixed team were earlier knocked out by the Koreans in their respective quarterfinals.