India’s Tarundeep Rai, Ridhi Phor win mixed team gold at Archery World Cup Stage 1

India’s Tarundeep Rai and teenage sensation Ridhi Phor won the mixed team event gold medal at Archery World Cup Stage 1 on Sunday in Antalya Turkey. The Indian pairing had the perfect blend of experience and youth as they held their nerve to beat Great Britain in a shoot-off in the gold medal match.

Pairing up for the first time ever, two-time Olympian Rai and 17-year-old Ridhi trailed twice 0-2 and 2-4 but held their nerve to close out the tie 5-4 (35-37, 36-33 , 39-40, 38-37 18-17) en route their maiden gold medal.

India thus concluded its campaign in the first event of the calendar year with two gold medals, the first coming through the compound men’s team of Abhishek Verma, Rajat Chauhan and Aman Saini on Saturday.

Incidentally for the 38-year-old Rai, who won the Asian Games silver in Guangzhou 2010, this was his first-ever mixed team medal in the World Cup. Ridhi showed immense character and grit in her first-ever World Cup appearance.

Tarundeep heaped rich praise on his teenage partner and said the World Cup win will propel them to win a medal at the Asian Games.

“This was the first time we’ve been paired together, she’s just 17 years old and has a bright future. It’s been a great experience with her and I wish every time we shoot, the Indian team will win gold.” Tarundeep told World Archery.

“Winning a World Cup title is a kind of milestone and this experience will really help us to win a medal in the Asian Games.”

MY BEST PERFORMANCE

Young Ridhi was elated after finishing on the top step of the podium, sharing the excitement of doing well at the highest level.

“It’s not even the first time I’m playing in a final venue, I’m playing my first World Cup,” she said.

“I was so excited to play here at the final venue and we can say that this was my best performance ever in a senior tournament.”

It was a disastrous start for the new-look Indian pair as it shot the red-ring twice (8-8) to lose the first set by two points. But Rai and Ridhi were able to level the score in the second set, thanks to two below-par rounds (7-8) by the British pair. The third set was a high-scoring affair as Rai and Ridhi shot 39/40, but their rivals went ahead by a point, drilling in a perfect 40/40 with two Xs (closest to the center) to push the Indian duo behind once again.

Not ready to give up, Rai and Ridhi shot two 10s to put pressure on their rivals, who misfired in the red ring once, to seal the match. (With PTI inputs)

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