Das knocks out Olympic champion, joins wife in last 16
Indian archer Atanu Das on Thursday proved a point by knocking out two-time Olympic champion Oh Jin Hyek to join his wife Deepika Kumari in individual pre-quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics. Das, who had lost his place to rookie Pravin Jadhav in the fancied mixed team event, showed nerves of steel to edge out the legendary Korean in a one-arrow shoot-off.
Das delivered a perfect 10 as Hyek shot a 9
The individual Olympic champion from London 2012 and a team gold medalist, Hyek started the shoot-off with a 9 as Das delivered a perfect 10, hitting the bull's eye to seal the issue 6-5 (10-9) in an extraordinary fashion. Earlier in the day, Das saw off a tough challenge from Chinese Taipei's Deng Yu-Cheng to win 6-4 from being locked 4-4.
Das faces home favorite Takaharu Furukawa next
There will be another tough challenge in the last 16 for Das, who will face home favorite Takaharu Furukawa, an individual silver medalist at London 2012 Olympics and a team bronze winner. The remaining individual events, including the medal rounds of the women's and men's, will be decided on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Kumari and Das are India's only hope in archery now
Chasing India's first-ever Olympic medal in archery, Kumari and Das, the first Indian couple to take part in the same discipline in the Games, are the only two Indians left in the fray. The mixed team and men's team had made quarterfinal exits on Saturday, while the Army duo of Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav lost out in their respective last-32 matches on Wednesday.
Das had beaten Hyek earlier at Asian Championships 2019
Returning to action a week after the "break up" with Kumari for the mixed pair event, Das showed amazing resilience as he bounced back from being 2-4 down to edge out the 39-year-old Korean great by the thinnest of margins. Incidentally, Das had beaten Hyek earlier too in the shoot-off for a bronze medal in the Asian Championships in Bangkok in 2019.
I just tried to maintain my focus: Das
But dealing with the utmost pressure and winning at the biggest stage of the Olympics was something "more special," Das said. "Yahan pe dimaag chala raha tha, dil nahin. Obviously, there was a lot of pressure but I just tried to maintain my focus and didn't listen to my heart," Das said after the win.
Hyek struggled to find a 10 in the first set
Hyek struggled to find a 10 in the first set but Das also had a slow start as the heavyweight archer took the first set by a one-point margin (25-26). Hyek finally found the 10-ring in his fourth arrow but only to hit in the red circle in his final arrow as consistent Das leveled the game (27-all) shooting three 9s.
Earlier, Das had a thrilling first-round match against Yu-Cheng
The sequence of the shoot-off follows the sequence of the start of the match, something that was chosen by the higher seed player. Earlier, Das had a thrilling first-round match as he was tied 4-4 against Deng Yu-Cheng.