Gazoz, Anagoz and Cagiran lead home team to 3 top seeds in Antalya

Mete Gazoz, Yasemin Anagoz and Evren Cagiran led their ranking rounds at the International Antalya Challenge to give the Turkish home team three of the four top seeds at the first world ranking event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reigning World Archery Champion Natalia Avdeeva of Russia prevented the sweep. She topped the compound women’s field with 694 out of a possible 720 points for the 72-arrow 50-metre ranking round.

“We really missed competition,” Avdeeva said. “It’s a small number of people competing, but some great archers. I’m so happy to be here.”

More than 100 athletes from 13 countries have travelled to this event.

Participants took a number of precautions to combat the spread of COVID-19. Archers were required to wear masks when off the shooting line, and only a single athlete shot on each target. (Normally, up to four athletes share one target.)

“It’s different, but it’s great. I just like to focus on myself,” said the recurve women’s number one qualifier, Yasemin Anagoz. “This is what I try to do normally, and looking at my target and seeing only my arrows was really cool.”

Turkey’s archery team is based in Antalya for training. But Yasemin, who is also the reigning European Champion, said competing here wasn’t necessarily an advantage.

“I don’t feel like I’m at an international. I feel like it’s home, it’s just shooting. Sometimes I lose my ambition,” she explained. “But I’m good in the wind on any field, and today had confusing conditions. I think this is what makes me strong.”

She scored 663 points for the 72-arrow 70-metre ranking round, six up on Italian duo Lucilla Boari and Tatiana Andreoli, who tied on 657.

Recurve men’s top seed Mete Gazoz, the world number five, was almost on pace to match his career best of 698 at the halfway point of his qualification. 

A loose finish pulled his total down slightly, but he still comfortably led with 691.

“Today was really good. I’m pleased with the arrows I shot, but I just had a few that were caught by the wind,” Gazoz said, adding that without the gusts, he might have hit the 700 mark.

(Only two recurve archers have reached that mark in competition: Kim Woojin at the Olympics in 2016, and Brady Ellison at the Pan Am Games in 2019.) 

“I aim to shoot 705 or 706 next year. But it could even be more,” said Gazoz, his trademark disarming confidence on display.

Artem Makhnenko put eight points on his competition best, scoring 685 points to take the second seed ahead of Russian teammates Galsan Bazarzhapov (679) and newcomer Tsyren Baltakov (677).

Evren Cagiran also put in a career high, hitting 710 for the first time to finish first over the compound men’s ranking round. His previous best was 706 points.

“The last end was exciting, but I was pretty sure I’d get it,” he said. “I’m really happy with this score. I was prepared and ready for it. It was obvious it was coming from my training results.”

Cagiran has fond memories of Antalya. He became the first man from Turkey to win a stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup here back in 2016.

He and the rest of the Turkish team are well-placed to deliver more results on this, their home practice and tournament field over the next two days.

Competition continues with individual eliminations on Saturday and concludes with the individual finals on Sunday. The gold medal matches will be streamed live across World Archery’s digital platforms.

The 2020 Antalya International Challenge, archery’s first world ranking event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, takes place on 2-4 October 2020.

Photos by Saygin Akinci. Quotes by Oyku Ergec.