Aditi Gopichand Swami becomes youngest modern world champion
Teenage sensation Aditi Gopichand Swami made history as she became the youngest World Archery Champion in the World Cup-era (2006 and on) and claimed India’s first-ever individual title at the 2023 Hyundai World Archery Championships with compound women’s gold in Berlin.
The 17-year-old beat Andrea Becerra, 149-147, in the showpiece to become a double world champion, having earned compound women’s team gold on Friday.
“I am very proud, I wanted to hear the 52 seconds of the national anthem to be played at the World Championships,” Swami said. “It is really great that at 17 I could become the world champion.”
It continued Swami’s superb year, which also saw her become double youth world champion after winning individual and team gold at the 2023 World Archery Youth Championships in Limerick last month.
She defeated the Netherlands’ Sanne De Laat in a tense quarterfinal shoot-off and came up against compound teammate Jyothi Surekha Vennam in the semifinals, who was hoping upgrade to gold, having won bronze in 2019 and silver in 2021.
Vennam won bronze with a perfect match against Türkiye’s Ipek Tomruk to make it a double showing for India on the compound podium.
Swami was unbeatable on a day where she dropped just four points, including scores of 149 in both her semifinal and final contests, shooting four consecutive ends of 30 in the final.
“This is just the start,” the teenage girl said. “We have the Asian Games coming up, I want to win gold for the country and continue to win team gold for the country.”
Silver medallist Becerra went on an epic run to the final, knocking out defending world champion Sara Lopez in the last-16.
She overcame France’s Sophie Dodemont and Tomruk on her way to the gold medal match, but could not get past Swami’s 149 despite shooting a commendable 147.
The 23-year-old went one better than her bronze medal of the 2021 World Archery Championships, where she was beaten by Vennam in the semifinals.
“I was very happy, because last time I was able to get the bronze medal so this feels like a step forward,” the Mexican said. “After a year of battling a lot with my confidence and my shots, I am incredibly happy.”
After several times thinking of giving up when things didn’t go her way, she has proved to herself that she could do it and it was worth persevering.
Vennam bounced back from her semifinal defeat to earn a bronze medal, shooting a flawless 150 to get the medal against Tomruk.
The world number two beat teammate Parneet Kaur 149-143 in the quarterfinals and, after losing to Swami, did not go out without making a statement in a perfect bronze medal match against 37th seed Tomruk.
“I am happy that I could win the bronze medal,” she said. “I was talking to my mother and father after and I got very emotional.”
“We are very happy that we are taking back two gold medals, we hope that this will continue and that the tradition will continue and that we will be able to get more and more gold medals for the country.”
Competition continues with compound men’s individual finals on Saturday afternoon in Berlin.