Antalya 2017: Recurve finals predictions
The second stage finals, held as usual in blazing sunshine on Antalya’s Konyaaltı Beach, culminates in a showdown between two of the individual Olympic medallists from Rio 2016, and a first individual Hyundai Archery World Cup gold medal for two of the top women on the circuit.
Recurve men’s gold final:
BRADY ELLISON / JEAN-CHARLES VALLADONT
Respectively, the individual bronze and silver medallists from Rio 2016 – and the first and second seeds here in Antalya – Brady Ellison and Jean-Charles Valladont go head-to-head in what could be the Hyundai Archery World Cup match of the year.
Brady, of course, needs little introduction – his incredible 2016 led him to a well-deserved Athlete of the Year trophy, and he is the most successful World Cup archer of all time. More to the point, he has looked in ominous form of recent times.
Arriving late and just a little jet-lagged from another tournament on Tuesday night, he still emphatically qualified in first place on Wednesday. In matchplay, he wasn’t seriously troubled until a slight wobble in the semifinal against young Frenchman Thomas Chirault, who went 4-0 up against him. Brady used all his experience to pull the match back and win.
There’s not many archers on the planet you could see beating Brady in target competition right now, but Valladont is one of the handful of them. Reigning European champion, and the Hyundai Archery World Cup stage winner in Wroclaw in 2015, he has nine other medals from the circuit over the years and won a neckful of indoor silverware this year, too. Legendary for his discipline – he said this week that he spent 15 days working on just one aspect of his form – he shares with Brady a deep, philosophical appreciation of archery and the nature of competition.
Both men crushed the matchplay this week: Brady averaged 28.4 points per end and Valladont 28.3. These are two competitors who relish the challenge of going up against the best in the world, and we could well see some 30s out on the beach.
As JC said on Friday morning about the upcoming final: “It will be who pulls the best out of themselves that wins the match.”
I feel Valladont might be just a fraction hungrier for the win, and he has been merciless in closing out matches this week. With Brady perhaps the populist pick, JC might get the tiniest sliver of an edge, in what could be something very special indeed.
Recurve men’s bronze final:
THOMAS CHIRAULT / DAVID PASQUALUCCI
Two of the best young archers in the world. Thomas Chirault, just 19 and in his first international season, hails from Olympic gold medallist Sebastian Flute’s club in Clermont Ferrand. He has risen rapidly to being one of the top archers in France, and this is his second finals stage in a row; he was part of the French men’s team that came fourth in Shanghai.
His matchplay scores on Thursday were extremely consistent and he is shooting fast and strong.
He is up against the reigning European indoor champion David Pasqualucci from Italy, who qualified third in Rio with a 685 and was part of the silver-winning Italian team at the last World Archery Championships. He was also extremely consistent in matchplay until his final with Valladont, where he seemed to fall away a little.
This could be close and of very high quality but Chirault seems to have everything dialled in and absolutely no fear – not to mention being the only man to push Brady Ellison to five sets this week in the semifinals. I’m giving him the edge here.
Recurve women’s gold final:
LIN SHIH-CHIA / KSENIA PEROVA
Chinese Taipei has an opportunity to take its first ever individual women’s gold medal on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit.
Having piled huge resources into archery in recent years, Chinese Taipei contested multiple finals in Antalya – but the jewel in the squad’s crown is the women’s recurve team, which took bronze in Rio, losing only to Korea – although Shih-Chia’s individual campaign ended with her leaving the stage in tears after losing to Bombayla Devi Laishram in the second round.
Her biggest past result was playing runner-up to Ki Bo Bae at the World Championships in Copenhagen.
Shih-Chia’s path to this final was not easy; she qualified way last of the four Chinese Taipei women in an unremarkable 16th place and will not be part of the team contesting the final in the morning against Japan. She beat Deepika Kumari in a shoot-off, but then twice more needed five sets and a tiebreaker to get past, first, Audrey Adiceom of France and then teammate Le Chien-Ying, looking exhausted by the end of the day.
Ksenia Perova, the captain of the much-decorated Russian women’s team, who will be shooting in the morning, took a silver medal in Antalya last year, beaten by Choi Misun in the final. A veteran of the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit for nearly 10 years, as usual she displayed consistently strong and confident matchplay shooting, and no-one had quite enough to take her out.
She will be looking to finally take a major individual gold to go with the seriously starry team trophies in her cabinet.
If Lin manages to display the kind of elite-podium form she has shown in the past – if perhaps not this week – she should have this match, because Perova on point can only lose to the very best. It kind of depends which Shih-Chia turns up. I’m banking that a couple of days rest and the confidence boost should give her enough to take this down.
Recurve women’s bronze final:
LE CHIEN-YING / ANA MARIA RENDON
Chien-Ying has shown in the past that she is capable of the very best form; her run in 2015 led her to bronze at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final, beating none other than London 2012 Olympic Champion Ki Bo Bae in Mexico City. A slight slump in form in 2016 let down her qualification in Rio, but she has shown consistency and quality in Antalya.
She is up against Ana Maria Rendon, a veteran of the Colombian women’s recurve team shooting at her 21st World Cup stage. Ana used all her experience to get through her bracket, but has not shown the consistency that led her to the Central American title three years ago. This one is Le’s to lose.
The second stage of the 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup runs 6 to 11 June in Antalya, Turkey.