Young and unheralded Mohit Deshwal of Haryana stunned Korean top seed Choi Yonghee en route to setting up a semi-final clash with Indian ace Avishek Verma in the men's compound section of the Asian Archery Championships in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Monday. (More Sports News)
On a day when the Indian recurve archers' familiar struggles against the Koreans once again came to the fore, the compound trio of Mohit, Verma and Jyothi Surekha kept India's hopes alive in the individual sections, advancing into their respective last-four rounds.
Less than two months after winning a silver medal at the Jamshedpur Senior Nationals, the 19-year-old Mohit stepped up at the international level and stood on the verge of a dream Asian Championships medal.
Having slipped to 16th place in the ranking round on Sunday, the India debutant shocked the world number 18 in the pre-quarterfinals, shooting a perfect 10 in the shoot-off as his heavyweight Korean rival managed a 9.
Hailing from a poor farmer's family in Ladhot village near Rohtak, Mohit displayed maturity and drilled in 13 perfect 10s from 15 arrows, which included five X (closest to the centre) before delivering the final punch in the shoot-off.
Mohit started off in spectacular fashion, with six perfect arrows to lead 60-59 after two ends as he held on to his one-point advantage in a neck-and-neck tussle till a small slip (9) in the final end helped Yonghee claw back to level 148-all.
"He has a strong mental game which helped him recover from the poor show in the ranking round and beat the Korean... I was following bit by bit," Mohit's coach Deepak Malik told PTI.
Malik runs the Navyug Archery Academy near Rohtak, where Mohit trains with his younger sister Tamanna Deshwal, a recurve mixed team silver medallist at the Under-17 World Youth Championships in Wroclaw, Poland in August.
"He just needs a win to win a dream medal at the Asian Championships. It would be a big achievement for all of us," Malik, whose students Kushal Dalal, Tamanna and Vickey got medals at the Youth World Championships in August, added.
In the quarters, Mohit defeated eighth seed Amir Kazempour of Iran 148-144 to seal his semifinal berth.
Former Asian champion Verma secured three easy wins on his way to setting up a semifinal clash with Mohit.
The duo last met at the Senior Nationals in October with Verma reigning supreme.
A day after he outshone his mentor Verma to get the third seeding, Rishabh Yadav made a disappointing quarterfinal exit, going down to sixth seed Sergey Khristich in a shoot-off.
Both shot in the nine ring in the shoot-off, but the Kazakhstan archer was adjudged winner with his arrow closer to the centre.
Fresh from winning three silver medals at the World Championships this year, Jyothi Surekha Vennam was the only Indian in fray in the women's individual section.
Jyothi got the better of her teammate Parneet Kaur 148-146 to set up a last-four date with Korean top seed Kim Yunhee, the 2015 world champion.
It was the same old story in the recurve section, where the Koreans made the Indians bite the dust en route to make an all-Korean semifinal lineup.
The Tokyo Olympics-returned Pravin Jadhav and reigning senior national champion Parth Salunkhe were the best among the Indian quartet, but in the quarters they went down to their respective Korean opponents in the men's individual section.
In the women's section, reigning youth world champion Komalika Bari lost to top seed Ryoo Su Jung, the 2011 world youth champion 6-4, in the quarters.
Madhu Vedwan and Ridhi also made quarterfinal exits, suffering 0-6 thrashing against their respective Korean opponents.
The team elimination round is slated on Tuesday.