More than 160 athletes from 25 nations will begin a quest for gold at the 2016 Para-Archery European Championships on Saturday (2 April) in Saint Jean de Monts, Vendee, France.
Seventeen European titles will be awarded: eight in individual, six in team and three in mixed team events.
The Championships are also the regional qualifiers, with nine spots available for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The top archers in Europe are expected to put on a show ahead of September’s Games.
Czech Republic’s David Drahoninsky, the Beijing 2008 gold medalist, is currently the top ranked male in the W1. He is the world record holder, the defending world champion and bronze medallist from the 2014 European Para-Archery Championships in Nottwil, Switzerland.
His top competition is expected to be Finland’s Jean Pierre Antonios, who beat Drahoninsky for the gold medal at the 2013 World Archery Championships.
Rising Italian star Eleonora Sarti is currently ranked first in the women’s compound. Sarti narrowly missed a medal in Switzerland, but the defending world champion looks to add European titles to her resume ahead of Rio 2016.
“I hope to win the European title in Individual, mixed teams and teams competitions,” Sarti said.
Russia’s Svetlana Barantseva has also risen to success and is aiming for her first major gold medal. Barantseva claimed two silver medals at last year’s World Championships in Donaueschingen, Germany, and a silver and bronze in Nottwil.
On the team side, there are rivalries across the board vying for the Paralympic slots. Italy, Russia, Great Britain, Germany and Turkey have top performers in all categories.
During last years World Championships, Russia and Italy medalled in the most team events of any European nation.
“The goal for the 2016 is, of course, Paralympic Games in Rio, but every competition bring more experience and enrichment for the Games,” Sarti said.
The 2016 Para- Archery European Championships will take place between 2-10 April. More information can be found on the event website, Facebook event page and Twitter @Paraarchery2016