Last but not least, Archana books YOG ticket
New Delhi, June 9: “It was a huge relief,” said Archana Girish Kamath, reacting to the 4-1 win she posted against Malaysian Chang Alice Li Sian in the final of the Road to Buenos Aires 2018 YOG Series Oceania at Rarotonga, Cook Islands, on Saturday.
The junior paddler, who jumped a few places in this month’s ranking to be at No. 12 in the world, beat her Malaysian rival 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 in what was her last chance to make the cut for YOG, after having failed to seal her berth at Rades (Tunisia) and Bangkok (Thailand) despite reaching the semifinals in the latter. However, Manav Thakkar qualified and booked his to South America last month in the same event.
In fact, Archana had a very good chance of making it to the final in Bangkok but she lost after leading 3-2 and 10-8 in sixth game to Hungarian Fanni Harasztovich. In Tunisia, she exited in the quarterfinals, losing to Singapore’s Zhang Wanling 2-4.
In a way Archana was lucky as SAI clearance came in the nick of time for her and coach Massimo Costantini to travel to the Cook Islands on Wednesday (June 6) to be in time for the event starting on Friday. With just one entry per section, both Manav and Archana will be in Buenos Aires for the October Games.
The trip to Rarotonga was, indeed, a tiresome affair with long layovers—from Bengaluru to Dubai and Auckland to destination in the Cook Islands—and taking as many as 36 hours.
Archana, simply put behind her weariness and concentrated on the job at hand, quickly going for a practice session, with coach in toe, on the previous evening soon after landing.
The top-seeded India had a first-round bye but in the second round it was tough against the Philippines’ Jannah Maryam Romeron, who not only went ahead with a 2-0 lead but also posed a lot of problems for Archana.
However, the determined Indian won the crucial third game with a minimal margin and the next on extended points to restore parity. From there, it was a confident Archana who thumped her rival from the Philippines to enter the semifinals with a 11-13, 8-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-7, 11-3.
In the semifinals, it was an easy affair for the world No. 12 as she beat Iran’s Mahshid Ashtari 11-2, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 and in the final, a cautious Archana dropped just one game before overpowering her Malaysian opponent 4-1 to seal her YOG berth.
“I am really happy for Archana,” said Massimo. “It was worth the trip to Cook Islands,” he added.
An elated TTFI Secretary General, M.P. Singh, said that the two young paddlers (Manav and Archana) have done India proud as they would be participating in the Youth Olympics for the first time. “We (TTFI and players) are on the right track and we must push things in a much better way to cash in on our achievements,” he said.