Guatemala City: Indian archery’s star couple Deepika Kumari and Atanu Das led the show with two individual gold medals as the country capped its best ever performance in a World Cup, claiming three golds and a bronze in the tournament’s first stage here.

Former world number one Deepika claimed her career’s third individual World Cup gold to add to the team’s triumph, while her husband Das grabbed his first ever World Cup individual medal in style winning the men’s recurve individual final.

The two are now automatically qualified for this season’s most-coveted Archery World Cup Final.

“We travel together, train together, compete together and win together,” Das, who got married to Deepika in June last year after a two-year courtship, said after claiming the gold medal on Sunday.

“She knows what I like, and I know what she likes.” 

This was the best ever World Cup finish by India’s recurve archers with two individual and one team gold medals in their return to the top International calendar year event after almost two years.

Also, this was India’s best ever individual recurve men’s result since Jayanta Talukdar triumphed in Croatia way back in 2009.

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India started with the women’s trio of Deepika, Ankita Bhakat and Komalika Bari winning the first team gold after seven years. They scripted a stunning turnaround to down fancied Mexico 5-4 (27-26) in an intriguing shoot-off.

The performance rubbed off on the mixed pair of Das and Bhakat as they bagged a bronze, upsetting top seeds USA 6-2 with yet another fightback at the Sports Complex Los Arcos here.

But the icing on the cake came in the individual events later in the day Deepika and Das bagged two individual golds in their respective events.

Former world number one Deepika, who was seeded third, stayed calm in an intense shoot-off to edge out USA’s eighth seed Mackenzie Brown 6-5 (9-9) by hitting closer to the centre. In the semi-final she had defeated her Mexican rival Alejandra Valencia 7-3.

This was Deepika’s third career stage win and first since Salt Lake City 2018.

World number six Deepika was 3-1 up after two sets but saw that lead vanish after Brown evened the match with a 29 in the third and a 28 in the fourth.

The two-time Olympian, however, held her ground in the fifth, shooting a 29 and displaying the kind of resilience she’s oft been accused of lacking.

“The most difficult part was the heart beat sound, which made me really nervous,” she said, mimicking it for emphasis.

“It’s been a long time since I shot in the finals,” she said. “It feels great and, at the same time, I’m happy and nervous. It gives me confidence and pushes me to give better performances.” 

But the best show came from her husband Das when he outclassed Spanish World Cup debutant Daniel Castro 6-4. Das’ previous best in the individual section has been a fourth place finish in Antalya 2016 where he lost to Kim Woojin in the bronze playoff.

Trailing after three sets in the final against Castro, Das flicked a switch.

He closed with a 29 and a 30 — shooting his last 10 before his opponent had finished, putting the match out of reach and sealed the issue with a punch in the air.

“It feels amazing. It’s like dreams are coming true. I have worked for so many years and now this is paying off. This is my first title and I’m very happy,” Das said.

On his perfect last set to take gold, he said, “I just gave my best and was present. I didn’t think about the future or the past, just present.” 

“It’s beautiful. It’s a big boost for me ahead of the Olympics. I’m working in the right way,” Das, who will be shooting in his second Olympics at Tokyo, signed off.

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