USA’s Andre Shelby and Iran’s Zahra Nemati were named men’s and women’s Para archers of 2016 by World Archery at a gala held in Las Vegas, USA, as part of the annual Vegas Shoot on 10 February.
The awards were voted for by the public and an expert panel. Over 43,000 public votes were cast between 1-31 December 2016.
Shelby made his Paralympic debut in Rio, where he won the men’s individual compound open event after beating Italy’s Alberto Simonelli in the final. Australia’s Jonathon Milne collected bronze.
“These honours mean a lot to me, not only for myself but for the entire community,” said Shelby, a Navy veteran who was paralyzed from the chest down in a motorcycle accident in 2004.
“And that is important; we are all here supporting one another.”
Shelby hopes to coach one day and pave the way for others with an impairment.
“Archery is a lot about self-discipline,” he said. “I think that stems from being in the military. The archery gives you a lot of discipline towards training and it is repetition over and over and over. I think that gives you an edge in the long run.”
Nemati made her Olympic debut in Rio weeks before the Paralympics. She won her second individual Paralympic title in the women’s individual recurve open in the Brazilian city. She also took silver in the mixed team recurve open with Ebrahim Ranjbarkivaj.
The 31-year-old took up archery after suffering a spinal cord injury in 2003. She has focused on inspiring women in sports and life.
“To know that I can touch other people, that is important,” Nemati said.
The World Archery Awards have been in existence since 2014 for athletes, officials and volunteers who displayed exceptional performance and have made a contribution to the sport.
In 2016, the volunteer of the year award was presented to the sport volunteers of Rio for their hard work and dedication throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games.