After a couple of unfruitful days at archery’s Final Olympic Qualifier, India secured a women’s recurve individual quota for the Paris Olympics as young Bhajan Kaur grabbed the gold medal in the tournament held in Antalya, Turkey on Sunday.

Bhajan Kaur grabbed the gold medal in the tournament held in Antalya(Bhajan Kaur Instagram )

Eight Olympic spots were up for grabs in the individual event that awarded only one quota per country. Ankita Bhakat also made the quarter-finals minutes before Kaur did. While the former exited there, the 18-year-old from Haryana went all the way and beat

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top-seeded Mobina Fallah of Iran 6-2 (28-26, 29-29, 29-26, 29-29) for the gold medal. Kaur and Bhakat were part of the Indian trio that won the Hangzhou Asian Games women’s team recurve bronze last year. “Kaur Bhajan takes GOLD and QUOTA ticket for India at the Final Olympic Qualifier,” World Archery wrote on X.

This was India’s second Paris quota in archery after a long wait; Dhiraj Bommadevara had earned the men’s individual berth at the Asian Continental Qualifier Tournament last November. The men’s and women’s teams that could not lock their spot from this final qualification tournament are likely to sneak in through world rankings.

Stunned by lower-ranked Ukraine in the Round of 16 of the team outing, the onus was on the Indian women to step up and get the job done in the individual event by at least making the quarters and securing the quota.

Deepika Kumari, seeded second, however had a horror start as she fluffed a 4-0 lead to go down 4-6 to Yaylagul Ramazanova of Azerbaijan, who was seeded a lowly 31st.

That shocker from the experienced archer left it to Bhakat and Kaur to deliver, and they did. Bhakat, a product of the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur, went past Israel’s Shelley Hilton 6-4 in the second round, Mikaella Moshe, also of Israel, 7-3 in the third before blanking Gabrielle Monica Bidaure of Philippines 6-0.

Minutes later, the teenaged Kaur followed her compatriot into the quarters beating Slovenian Urska Cavic 7-3. She earlier beat Urantungalag Bishindee of Mongolia 6-2 in the third round.

While Bhakat exited in the last eight stage going down to Fallah 6-4, Kaur kicked on. Seeded third, she swept past 27th seed Wioleta Myszor of Poland 6-0 in the quarters and 10th seeded Moldovian Alexandra Mirca 6-2 in the semis.

That brought her up against the top seed and the young Indian remained clinical against the Iranian. Kaur shot a 10 and a couple of 9s to take the opening set in which the Iranian littered an 8. Fallah then tidied herself shooting a couple of 10s but an X (closer to the centre) by Kaur made the difference in splitting the second set 29-29.

The youngster remained clinical in the third, shooting quality 9s and 10s while the top seed was undone by an awry 7. Up 5-1, all Kaur needed was another point and she got it by maintaining her composure off the final shot. Chasing Fallah’s high 29 in the fourth set, Kaur’s 10 landed in the middle of the target as she signed off with a levelled set, the gold medal and a wide smile.

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