Tonioli upsets top seed on home turf

24 September 2016
Odense (DEN)
The Italian compound archer has now won bronze, silver and gold medals in her three Hyundai Archery World Cup Final appearances.

Marcella Tonioli took the Hyundai Archery World Cup final women's individual title on compound Saturday in Odense, beating the number one seed in the tournament, Sarah Sonnichsen, on her home soil in a dramatic shoot-off.

The Italian archer has over a dozen World Cup medals to her name and was mixed team world champion in 2011 and 2013 – but Odense completed her World Cup Final podium set. She had already won a bronze medal, in Istanbul in 2011, and silver at Paris 2013.

Tonioli was hot from the off, putting in a 147 against Lily Chanu Paonam of India and then beating a slightly off-form Crystal Gauvin of the USA in the semifinal, 144-139.

Sonnichsen had beaten Danish teammate Erika Anear and then Yesim Bostan, from Turkey, in the semifinal with scores of 147 in each, to set up a gold medal match with Tonioli, the third-overall seed.

Both archers seemed tense on the finals stage, shipping eights and leaving Tonioli a point adrift after the fourth end. In a even tenser fifth end, Tonioli and Sonnichsen matched each other point for point – but then the Italian archer’s second arrow was upgraded to a 10, putting the scores level after 15 arrows and forcing a shoot-off.

In the tiebreaker, both archers shot close nines.

The crowd held their breath as the judges measured, and Tonioli’s was called closer by just a fraction – 44.3 millimetres from the centre of the target compared Sonnichsen’s 47.2 millimetres.

“It was incredible. I was shaking so much. When I shot the nine, I thought it wouldn’t be the winner,” said Tonioli, who loosed first.

After Sonnichsen shot her arrow, the wait to confirm it was almost unbearable.

“I though that mine was nearer than Sarah’s. But until the judges said I had won, I didn’t believe it,” said Tonioli.

“It’s almost too big for me right now. I can’t explain my emotion because it’s too big for me right now. I was so excited about this final, but I didn’t think I could win,” Tonioli added.

It was a tough blow for Sonnichsen, the number-one ranked archer, who was a strong favourite for the title after the withdrawal of Sara Lopez.

“It’s not fun, having to go to a shoot-off,” she said. “I don’t think anyone thinks it’s fun, because you only have one arrow and you have to put it in the middle.”

“I got a lot of experience [today]. The first two matches were good, the last one wasn’t so good. I can take it home and work on it, try to figure out what I can do to make my matches better. So I don’t shoot an eight.”

In the bronze medal match, Crystal Gauvin beat Bostan by a single point.

“I was really mad about my second match [versus Tonioli]. I went and watched the boys shoot, tried not to think about it too much,” Gauvin said.

“I came here to win, I thought I had a really good shot. I’m happy with the bronze, but it’s definitely a disappointment. I have the world field next week, so on to that.”

The 2016 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final runs 24/25 September in Odense, Denmark.