India claims 8 of 10 pole positions at Asia Cup in Phuket

Targets set on the field in Phuket

India’s recurves took two of the four top individual seeds as the squad swept the six available team poles – in both the recurve and compound events – over two days of qualifying at the first leg of the 2022 Asia Cup. This year’s first world ranking event in Asia is running on 14-19 March in Phuket, having been relocated from its normal location in the Thai capital of Bangkok to a tourist bubble on one of the country’s most popular island resorts.

Salunkhe Parth Sushant (662) and Ridhi Phor (647) were the stars of this young Indian team, which recently spent time training at the World Archery Excellence Centre in Lausanne.

Kazakhstan’s Andrey Tyutyun (702) and Iranian archer Geesa Bybordy (689), the world number 48, qualified top in the compound events.

Both were trailed closely by Indian athletes on their respective leaderboards.

Sakshi Chaudhary finished just a point behind Bybordy over the compound women’s 72-arrow round, while promising 19-year-old Rishabh Yadav sat just four points behind Tyutyun, who was ultimately the only archer in the division to break 700 points.

“It’s my first time in competition in Thailand, I’m satisfied with today’s performance, as this is a new step towards my highest result,” said Tyutyun. “I think positively about these events since these competitions are very important both for archery and for Kazakhstan.”

The highest-ranked archer in the competition, Malaysia’s Khairul Anuar Mohamad, who arrived in Phuket ranked as the world number 25 despite not having taken to the field since last summer’s Olympics, seeded fourth in the recurve men’s competition with 658 points.

Bangladeshi superstar and fellow Tokyo 2020 Ruman Shana registered a 653 to sit in seventh.

“It’s so difficult and not so easy in the wind, but so many times in international competitions I have participated in windy conditions,” said Shana. “I am not so sad and not so happy, it’s medium quality and I am satisfied with my score. Our main goal is the Asian Games because Bangladesh archery has not won any medals there.”

This event is early in the competition season – and while world ranking points are on offer, it’s primarily an opportunity for talented up-and-coming teams to earn valuable experience ahead of an important season. The next Asian Games, regarded as second only to the Olympics in the continent, are scheduled to take place in China in September.

India has never had an individual winner at that event – but 17-year-old Ridhi Phor has her sights firmly set on changing that record, her confidence buoyed by a field-leading performance in challenging conditions in Thailand.

“It doesn’t matter I am ranking one. I am not satisfied with my performance because due to the wind I cannot shoot well, below my average,” said Phor, who trains in India at the Army Sports Institute in Pune and started archery at the age of eight, learning from her father and using a bow and arrow made of bamboo.

“This is a practice tournament for us because after this we have many tournaments in India: national tournaments, Asian Games final selection trials. My goal is to get into the team for the Asian Games.”

Competition continues in Thailand with team and individual eliminations on Thursday.

Top seeds: Phuket 2022