In a grim reality check ahead of the Olympics next year, Indian recurve archers ended their campaign from the World Championship without a medal here on Thursday.
Having crashed out of the team events, the archers bowed out in the individual sections as well.
India’s biggest hope Dhiraj Bommadevara, who qualified as second seed from the qualification round, and Simranjeet Kaur, were the best finishers for the country, losing in the pre-quarterfinals.
With this, India’s hopes for securing Paris Olympics team and individual quota places from this event have evaporated.
This is the first Olympic qualifier giving berths to the top-three finishers in individual and team categories.
But it’s not the end of the road for Indian archers as they can still qualify for Paris 2024 from continental qualifiers or rankings.
Nevertheless, it was the below-par show that came to haunt Indian archery again as they search for an elusive Olympic medal.
21-year-old Dhiraj is projected as the biggest Indian hope in the next year’s Olympics.
Dhiraj did well to grab second ranking, shooting five points behind double Olympic gold medalist Kim Woo-jin of Korea.
It gave the India a bye to the third round (last-32) after he overcame harrowing first set to defeat Brazilian Matheus Zwick Ely 6-4 (18-25, 24-22, 26-26, 28-25, 25-25).
Zwick Ely took the first set after Dhiraj shot misfired one of his three arrows. A nervy Dhiraj shot a six in the second set but managed to win it to level scores.
Third was a tie, and it was only in the fourth set the Indian came on his own to shoot 28 out of 30 and sealed the win in the fifth with a tie.
In the pre-quarters, world number 26 Dhiraj lost to lower-ranked Ricardo Soto of Chile.
The 4-6 (26-24, 26-28, 21-23, 28-25, 25-27) result in favour of the Chilean, who is world No 59, was once again a reflection of their poor shooting.
India’s high performance director Sanjeeva Singh blamed it on the windy conditions.
“It was very strong winds blowing at the Polo ground next to Olympic stadium and luck played a huge role as holding the aim was difficult,” Singh said.
Among the other two Indians, Mrinal Chauhan departed in the first round, while Tushar Shelke exited in second round.
Simranjeet, who had a lowly 51st place in the qualifying round, was the best among Indian women, but only to go down in the last-16, faltering against Korea’s Olympic gold medallist Kang Chae Young in straight sets 0-6 (28-29, 24-27, 22-27).
Among other Indian women, Ankita Bhakat had a first round exit, while Bhajan Kaur bowed in the second round.
Pairing up, Dhiraj and Ankita failed to live up to their fourth-place seeding and lost to 13th seeded Italy 4-5 (35-37, 36-35, 39-37, 34-36) (16-17) in the pre-quarters.
As has been the case in recent past, India will rely on the non-Olympic compound discipline to open their medal count and salvage some pride in the competition.