Bangladesh make another huge step forward, leading medals at Asia Cup

Diya Siddique and Nasrin Akter in action at the first leg of the 2022 Asia Cup

Bangladesh led the medal table with three gold medals – all won in the recurve events – as the last session of competition finished today at the first leg of the 2022 Asia Cup in Phuket, Thailand.

In changeable weather conditions, ranging from bright sun and humidity to torrential downpours, Bangladesh took the recurve women’s individual and team and the recurve mixed team titles, as Nasrin Akter herself collected three gold medals, propelling the emerging archery nation to one of its best-ever international results as a squad.

A total of 10 medals were handed out across the events at this early world ranking tournament.

Malaysia’s Muhamad Zarif Syahiir won the recurve men’s competition, after defeating Kazakhstan’s Dauletkeldi Zhangbyrbay in five sets, while Mohammadsaleh Palizban of Iran and India’s Sakshi Chaudhary took gold medals in the compound individual events.

Both women’s finals were contested between two archers of the same nationality: the compound final between India duo Chaudhary and Parneet Kaur, with the former defeating the latter with a better tiebreak 10, and the recurve final between Bangladeshi Olympian Diya Siddique and eventual four-set winner Akter.

Iran took a second gold with its compound mixed pair, while India’s recurve men also collected team honours.

Home fans also had something to celebrate, with Thailand stepping up against India to win the compound women’s team gold.

Bangladesh's mixed team at the 2022 Asia Cup - Stage 1

The golden day for Bangladesh started with the first of Nasrin Akter’s three gold medals when she paired up with Ruman Shana in the mixed team event, which saw the Bangladeshi side overcome India, 5-3. 

Akter then welcomed teammates Diya Siddique and 15-year-old Famida Sultana Nisha to the field as Bangladesh defeated India once again, this time via shoot-off (28-27) in the recurve women’s team final. The matchplay had ended tied at four set points apiece with Bangladesh scoring a perfect 60 in the third set.

Siddique then went up against Akter in the all-Bangladesh recurve women’s final, with Akter’s three opening sets of 28 pushing her ahead and ultimately into a position to take a 6-2 victory, finalising her trio of podium-topping positions and underlining further huge progress for Bangladesh – and particularly female archers from Bangladesh.

Last year, Siddique received a universality invitation to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games so that the nation could field a mixed team, with Shana having qualified courtesy his bronze medal at the worlds in 2019.

“This is a great feeling, an awesome feeling,” said Shana to World Archery about his mixed team gold. “This is my first time and it’s a great achievement for my country. Last year I played with Nasrin and she’s improving her shooting a lot and her confidence also – she won three gold medals today. I also shot with her at the 2018 Asian Games where we made the quarterfinals.”

“Our women last year were not so complete and strong, but then our coach Martin [Frederick] came and helped [them] because our men’s team was already so strong. They try hard, hard, hard and now they are a strong team.”

Thailand's compound women's team win gold at the 2022 Asia Cup - Stage 1

Despite reaching just one final, Thailand gave host nation fans something to get behind in perhaps the upset of the tournament. The local team saw off India, 231-230, in the compound women’s final. 

The Indian side had started well, taking a three-point lead after the first end (59-56) but a slow and steady comeback saw the Thai side lead by one point going into the fourth. And with both teams scoring 58, Thailand’s Kanoknapus Kaewchomphu, Kanyavee Maneesombatkul and Bunyapalin Nichaphat were left hugging in pure emotion at the result.

“I feel very proud because my team performed so well in this game, we won the first gold medal in the Asia Cup for the women’s compound team,” said Maneesombatkul to World Archery. “I started archery back in 2005 when I was 10 years old and now train on the national team field in Bangkok, [so] I feel prouder that we won [this medal] in our homeland.”

And Maneesombatkul was quick to reveal her goals for the year ahead and what this gold could mean for the next generation.

“I hope to shoot more good arrows for this season and the upcoming season and along the way, I will give it a shot to win gold medals at the [Southeast Asian] Games,” said the 26-year-old. “I want to say to youngsters in Thailand who may want to start archery that if you are happy doing something, just do it with all your heart.”

“Chase your dreams and be proud of yourself. No success will come without hard work and dedication. I believe everyone can do it.”

Conditions were changeable on the final day of the 2022 Asia Cup - Stage 1

Champions: Phuket 2022

Medal table: Phuket 2022

1. BAN flag Bangladesh: 4 (3 gold, 1 silver)
2. IND flag India: 8 (2 gold, 6 silver)
3. IRI flagIran: 6 (2 gold, 4 bronze)
4. KAZ flag Kazakhstan: 6 (1 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze)
5. MAS flag Malaysia: 5 (1 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze)
6. THA flagThailand: 1 (1 gold)

A total of 30 medals (10 gold, 10 silver, 10 bronze) were handed out in Phuket, with athletes representing six countries collecting them.