Mete makes final in Umag with dominant middle matches

Two Olympic Champions: Mete Gazoz and Viktor Ruban.

Olympic Champion Mete Gazoz headlines a recurve finals line-up at the European Grand Prix in Umag, where the Turkish recurve men will also shoot for gold and valuable world ranking points.

The 23-year-old qualified top on Tuesday but with an unusually low 72-arrow score of 658 points.

(He shot the round on the same target as another Olympic Champion, Beijing 2008 winner Viktor Ruban.)

“It was not my best but it was too windy here,” he said. “Hard windy, all the time changing. My first arrow, I shot the wrong target. But I finally finished top seed.”

In such challenging conditions, Gazoz said he chose to be “more brave”.

That attitude continued to serve him well in today’s matchplay, when the wind was perhaps less aggressive. Mete shot back-to-back four-set winners in the last-16 and quarterfinals in which, through 12 shots, he only dropped one out arrow out of the middle.

Through today’s four matches, his 9.72 average points per arrow far outpaces the best scoring rate of his career (9.56 in 2020).

He’ll face French Olympian Thomas Chirault in Saturday’s televised individual final, while the winner at this year’s Hyundai Archery World Cup season opener in Antalya, Dan Olaru, takes on Den Habjan for third place.

Arguably more important for Türkiye, however, is the untelevised team final on Friday.

Two teams will qualify for the next Olympic Games on world ranking alone and coaches of the world’s top teams have made no secret of their pursuit for world ranking points at events like this week’s tournament in Umag.

“This event is important,” said Mete, who mirrored management’s sentiment after bagging a decent result with his squad in Shanghai last month. “But it’s also practice for the European Games, the World Cup and the world championships.”

“I like this event. We can try technique, we can try equipment… and I like it.”

Competition continues in Umag with compound eliminations this afternoon. Individual finals run on Saturday.