India first non-Korean nation to top Asian Games medals in 45 years

Vennam wins India’s fifth gold in Hangzhou.

Jyothi Surekha Vennam secured India’s fifth medal of the Asian Games to secure the country’s place at the top of the medal table in Hangzhou as Otgonbold Baatarkhuyag won Mongolia’s first-ever title at the tournament.

Indian compounder Pravin Deotale and this year’s breakout star, Lim Sihyeon, from Korea also took individual titles.

In a gold medal match that would decide the leading nation at these Asian Games, Vennam showed the quality that’s been the trademark of the Indian squad this season. She dropped her first arrow into the nine, then shot 14 straight 10s to beat Korea’s So Chaewon, 149-145.

“I feel short of words. There’s a lot of emotions I’m going through. I need some time to take it all in,” said Vennam.

“We are so happy that India did great this season, and in the Asian Games. We did great and hope we can repeat this again in the future.”

At this first edition of the multisport event to include a full programme for the compound bow – including five gold medals – India has produced an historic result, knocking Korea off the top of the medal table for the first time since 1978.

Vennam sealed the outcome and is one of two archers on the squad, alongside reigning world champion Deotale, to leave Hangzhou with three golds – in the individual, mixed and team events.

India and Korea were each guaranteed at least one individual winner on the last day of competition in China.

In the compound men’s final, Deotale beat Indian teammate Abhishek Verma, 149-147, while in the recurve women’s final, Lim defeated reigning Olympic Champion An San in straight sets.

It was the third gold of the week in Hangzhou for Lim, too.

“I worked hard but I’m so happy that the results of my efforts shine like this,” she said.

The recurve men’s final was the lone title match at the Asian Games to feature neither an athlete from India nor Korea. Instead, number 12 seed Qi Xiangshuo entered favourite to give the home nation one medal to celebrate.

Somehow, as he has all week – with Olympic medallists Takaharu Furukawa and Tang Chih-Chun among his Hangzhou upsets – Otgonbold Baatarkhuyag found a way to win.

Two 29s to open, one to close (after a wobble in the third set), and the Mongolian took victory, 6-2.

“I can’t express how I feel. I’m super excited,” he said. The crowd was very much against the visiting archer but, despite limited arena experience, the 26-year-old thrived in the spotlight.

“I like to shoot when the crowd is loud. It was my style and I like it very much. There was no pressure. I just focused on myself and tried to shoot my best, and it worked. I’m so happy.”

Xiangshuo, the recurve men’s finalist, was philosophical about the loss.

“It wasn’t about the home-field pressure. It’s about not doing well by oneself,” he said. “My idol is Liu Xiang [a former Olympic gold medallist in the 110-metre hurdles] and he once said, ‘as long as you perform at your training level in competition, victory will be close’.”

“I didn’t fully do that today.”

Eyes forward, already, for the Chinese team and many of the archers in Hangzhou.

More Olympic places are on offer at the Asian Championships at the start of November – including one coveted team quota in each of the men’s and women’s competitions. China has neither secured at the moment, while Korea is missing its women’s team ticket.

The latter will arrive at the event in Bangkok no longer the across-the-docket favourite.

Because, for the first time in nearly half a century, there is a new powerhouse nation in archery in the continent. India – top of the medal table at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

“We have nothing more to say,” said Indian compound coach Sergio Pagni. “Five golds out of five possible golds.”

Four for Korea. One for Mongolia. Competition in China is complete.

Podiums: Asian Games

Full results on the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games event page.

Recurve men

  1. Otgonbold Baatarkhuyag, Mongolia
  2. Qi Xiangshuo, China
  3. Lee Woo Seok, Korea

Recurve women

  1. Lim Sihyeon, Korea
  2. An San, Korea
  3. Li Jiaman, China

Compound men

  1. Pravin Deotale, India
  2. Abhishek Verma, India
  3. Yang Jaewon, Korea

Compound women

  1. Jyothi Surekha Vennam, India
  2. So Chaewon, Korea
  3. Aditi Swami, India