Archery: Five things we learned from Rio 2016

Find out what came out from the sport after competition wrapped up at the Sambodromo. 08 Oct 2016
Zahra Nemati
Zahra Nemati of Iran in action during a training session at the Sambodromo Olympic Archery venue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
ⒸMatthias Hangst/Getty Images
By Emily Bayci | For IPC

Great Britain topped the archery medal pool, Australia medalled for the first time in 32 years and Iran’s Zahra Nemati stealing the show. From all the action and storylines that took place, here are five things learned from the sport at Rio 2016:



1. Great Britain is a powerhouse

Great Britain dominated the medal pool with six total medals, three being gold. Five of these medals were in the W1, where the Great Britain’s women took the only medal sweep of the archery competition.


“It shows that we are the best in the world, particularly in the W1 category,” British archer Jo Frith said. “We're streets ahead of everyone else. The hard work we put in, week in week out, with the funding, we’re able to practice our mixed team, and that’s why we’re so slick, so comfortable.”


2. Iranian archers champions for diversity in sports

Zahra Nemati was an instant legend on the Sambodromo, drawing attention and respect from competitors and fans from all nations. Her appearance in the Olympics and the Paralympics, along with her tireless efforts to advocate for women in sports made Nemati a role model athlete.


She beat China’s world champion Wu Chunyan in the gold medal match for the recurve women’s open. Wu has happy for the competition and ready to face Nemati again.


Renowned archer and Italian star Elisabetta Mijno fell to Nemati in the quarterfinals and discussed afterwards that it felt like the gold medal match.


Nemati was not the only Iranian archer receiving respect.


Gholamreza Rahimi and Ebrahim Ranjbarkivai both climbed the individual recurve men’s open podium and battled one another in a five-set semifinal. Rahimi eventually claimed gold and Ranjbarkivaj bronze.


3. Archery can be fun

Amidst the intense shoot-outs and archery rivalries, the Para archers sport a generally laid back attitude and have fun with one another.


The famed armless archer Matt Stutzman of the USA had a joke for everything, and the Czech Republic’s David Drahoninsky stole the show after claiming silver in the men’s W1 by proposing to his girlfriend.


“I finished second. Sorry,” Drahoninsky said to his girlfriend.


She accepted his proposal in front of all the fans and competitors.



4. Mental toughness goes a long way


The USA’s Jeff Fabry preaches mental toughness to all beginning archers and first time Paralympians.


“So much of what we do, it is all in your head,” Fabry said.


Fabry will practice his shooting technique over and over in his head, in case he forgets when the pressure hits.


Australia’s Jonathon Milne went as far as instructing his family and friends to stay silent until he was done shooting. He said that although noise does not bother him, if he hears someone that he knows it could be the difference between a nine and a 10.


5. Community is everything in the sport

US gold medallist Andre Shelby said the reason he decided to start shooting was because of how much he enjoyed the people, both his teammates and the staff. He was overwhelmed with the amount of support and positive reinforcement he received and that motivated Shelby to never give up.


“If it wasn’t for these people and their great attitudes then I wouldn’t be doing it,” Shelby said.


Some archers were the only representative from their countries, but going to archery meets is still like going home for them.


“We are one big family,” Anderson said. “I respect everybody on this line and I respect their abilities. You can’t underestimate anybody on this line. I felt very honored. When I was going through a tough time you feel the support from your fellow archers.”