The individual finals of the first World Cup stage of the year took place on Sunday afternoon on Santo Domingo’s Plaza de Espana. The Italian Natalia VALEEVA was crowned the “Queen of Santo Domingo”, winning her second title in a row in the Dominican Republic in the recurve women’s category. The young, talented Romain GIROUILLE (FRA) and Braden GELLENTHIEN (USA) won the gold in recurve and compound men. The compound women’s podium was 100 percent American with Brittany LORENTI, Jamie VAN NATTA and Diane WATSON.
Gold Medal – Alison WILLIAMSON (GBR) vs Natalia VALEEVA (ITA)
VALEEVA is the no. 3 in the world ranking and seeded no. 2 in this stage. She took part in five Olympic Games and won several indoor and outdoor world championships titles. She was the winner of last year's World Cup edition in Santo Domingo.
No. 27 in the world, WILLIAMSON was the no. 8 seed entering the elimination rounds and qualified for the gold medal match beating the no. 1 seed MOSPINEK (POL) in quarterfinal and then the no. 4 BANERJEE in the semis.
The two ladies were tied at 26 points each after three arrows. VALEEVA took a 1-point lead at the half-way mark (52-51), and thanks to a perfect 10-10-10 third end, she increased her advantage to six points (82-76) with only three arrows to go. Despite scoring a 6 at her last shot, the Italian had a margin that was comfortable enough to get over WILLIAMSON. By 106-101, VALEEVA became the "Queen of Santo Domingo" clinching a second victory in a row in the Dominican Republic after last year's win!
Bronze Medal – Dola BANERJEE (IND) vs Reena KUMARI (IND)
BANERJEE won the World Cup Final 2007 in Dubai. She is 35th in the world and seeded no. 4 in this first World Cup stage 2009. Her opponent was her teammate KUMARI, who only ranks 145th in the world but was no. 11 at the end of the qualifications.
In the semi-final round, BANERJEE lost to the five times Olympian WILLIAMSON (GBR), while KUMARI was defeated by VALEEVA (ITA), also five times Olympian and winner of several indoor and outdoor world titles.
Shooting a 6 in the first end, BANERJEE trailed by four points after three arrows (22-26) and by three at the half-way mark (48-51). However, with one 10 and two 9s in the third end, she struck back down to the score and only trailed by one with three arrows to go (76-77). The score was tied at the end of the match and the two ladies had to go to a tie-break to decide on the winner. KUMARI shot a 7 in the shoot-off, offering the bronze to her fellow countrywoman, who clinched victory with a 9.
Gold Medal – Brittany LORENTI (USA) vs Jamie VAN NATTA (USA)
VAN NATTA is the reigning World Cup winner after her victory in the Grand Final in Lausanne last September. She is the no. 1 in the world and the no. 1 seed here in Santo Domingo. She entered the gold medal match as the favourite. In semi-final, she easily defeated her teammate WATSON 115-105.
LORENTI is 45th of the world ranking and was seeded no. 7 in Santo Domingo. This first stage of the year was her first World Cup participation. In the previous round, she beat the Venezuelan BOSCH 111-108.
The 22-year old LORENTI had a perfect start in the match, leading 30-28 after three arrows and putting pressure on her experimented opponent. She managed to keep her 2-point lead after the second (57-55) and third end (83-81). While VAN NATTA scored 8-7-10 in the last end, LORENTI shot two 10s and a 9 to clinch her first gold World Cup medal.
Bronze Medal – Diane WATSON (USA) vs Olga BOSCH (VEN)
The Venezuelan BOSCH was seeded no. 3 after the qualifications and is no. 66 in the world. She suffered defeat in semi-final against the no. 1 seed and 2008 World Cup winner VAN NATTA (USA).
It was only the second international tournament for the American WATSON. Her first World Cup appearance was last year here in Santo Domingo and she ranked 20th. No. 66 in the world ranking and seeded no. 4 her, she only was defeated by her teammate LORENTI in the semi-final round.
The two competitors never met before, so this match was expected to be quite open.
Indeed, the score was tied at the half-way mark at 57-57. Then WATSON took a 1-point lead with only three arrows to go (86-85). She finished with a perfect 30-point last end and clinched the bronze medal over BOSCH.
Ludivine MAITRE WICKI