A plethora of new world records, shocking upsets and a dramatic single-arrow shoot-off are some of the many highlights that marked the 2019 World Archery Para Championships. Here are the lessons we picked up during the week-long tournament.
1. Records are meant to be broken
World records tumbled down like confetti throughout the competition, starting with the first day when an impressive seven new records were set across individual and team events. The first day set the tone for the rest of the competition and more world records were broken over the following days.
2. There is no better motivation than Tokyo 2020
There was good reason why the athletes were in top form and breaking world records day after day. With 80 out of 140 quota spots for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games on the line at the 2019 Worlds, athletes made sure to be at their best in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
3. Don’t dismiss the underdog
The 2019 Worlds served up plenty of drama as a fair share of underdogs claimed the top prize. Perhaps no matchup was as shocking as Zahra Nemati’s semi-final defeat to Milena Olszewska in the women’s recurve open. The double Paralympic champion from Iran lost to her Polish rival in the final set. The surprises didn’t end there, with Beijing 2017 bronze medallist Ben Thompson upsetting USA teammate and Paralympic medallist Matt Stutzman in the men’s compound open.
4. Age is just a number
Great Britain’s 60-year-old archer Steve Prowse proved that he is not slowing down as he won his third world title in the vision impaired 2/3 competition. Prowse’s first gold medal in the sport dates back more than 10 years to the 2007 World Archery Para Championships in Cheongju, Korea. He added his second gold at 2015 Donaueschingen.
5. Watch out for the new kids on the block
The 2019 Worlds presented a stellar line-up of Paralympic and world champions, but rather than intimidate, the challenge only seemed to spur on the sport’s newcomers. Malaysia’s Suresh Selvathamby left his first World Championships with a gold medal in the men’s recurve open after beating the 2015 world champion Eric Bennett in the final. Meanwhile, Singapore’s Nur Syahidah Alim became her country’s first world champion after victory in the women’s compound open.
6. You don’t need to see or hear to hit the bull’s eye
The competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch marked a world championships debut for Great Britain’s Richard John Nicholl. Nicholl is not only unable to see similar to the other archers in his vision impaired 1 category, he is also unable to hear. He communicates with his coaches through tactile sign language and his efforts - including almost daily training sessions - earned him the sixth spot in the final ranking.
7.China’s team dynamics are hard to beat
In addition to three medals in the individual events, China was also the most successful country in the team competitions. Chinese archers claimed gold medals in the mixed team compound open, women’s team recurve open, women’s team compound open, and mixed team W1, to go along with a silver and three bronze. The women’s compound team even trumped the men’s world record in the quarter final duel against Russia where Chinese archers scored 236 out of a possible 240 points.