1st podium for Rodionova as Ukraine shows up strong in Sofia

16 April 2016
Ukrainian teams took both recurve golds at the year’s first European Grand Prix leg in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Polina Rodionova, one of a six-strong recurve women’s contingent representing Ukraine in Sofia, qualified fourth out of the six in the individual competition – in 10th – but was the only one to make it into the final four.

Anastasia Pavlova, Veronika Marchenko and Lidiia Sichenikova, the usual Ukrainian three-woman line-up, all dropped out of the individual competition in the third round or quarterfinals, but took advantage of a top seeding in the team event. After a 6-0 win over the Netherlands in the quarters, the trio toppled Estonia in a semifinal shoot-off and then beat Turkey to gold.

Rodionova, meanwhile, had upset the bracket by dispatching second-seeded Zhibzema Dambaeva in the individual quarterfinals. She earned a final berth with a win over Poland’s Sylwia Zyzanska, a Youth Olympian in Nanjing in 2014, then took gold over Kristina Esebua in four sets.

Esebua was runner-up at the worlds in 2011. The Georgian archer qualified just 40th in Sofia, then shot two 10-10-9 series in her first two match sets. She upset the eighth and ninth seeds, and top qualifier Ana Umer in the brackets.

The Sofia gold is 22-year-old Polina’s first senior gong on the international stage. She was successful as a junior athlete both indoors and out, picking up five team medals, and one individual, at World Archery Youth Championships since 2009.

Ukraine’s recurve men also had gold at the first leg of the 2016 European Grand Prix.

Like the women, four of the men qualified in the top 10, with Beijing 2008 Olympic Champion Viktor Ruban leading the squad in second. The top-seeded team – Viktor with Heorhiy Ivanytskyy and Mykyta Shyshkin – beat Turkey in a windy semifinal shoot-off, then took a deciding fourth set 54-51 over Austria in the final.

Ruban had bronze in the individual competition, too.

Turkish promise

Following an appearance at the Youth Olympic Games in 2014 and a junior world indoor silver medal with the Turkish team at the World Archery Indoor Championships to start 2016, Mete Gazoz put together his biggest senior performance to date in Sofia.

The 16-year-old posted 672 out of 720 in qualification to take the top recurve men’s seed, and translated it into a silver medal after matchplay.

Turkey is still searching for an Olympic place to Rio 2016, with chances at the European Championships in Nottingham in May and the final qualifier, on home soil, in Antalya in June. Mete is one to watch at both.

Best of the rest

  • Moldova’s Dan Olaru and Alexandra Mirca took mixed team gold in the recurve competition. Olaru was a surprise qualifier for London 2012.
  • The junior runner-up at the Ankara indoor worlds, Christos Aerikos from Greece won the compound men’s gold. Sarah Sonnichsen had the women’s.
  • Italian compound teams had gold in the men’s, women’s and mixed events!

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