Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Sport Week: Ones to Watch for Para archery

Big names and breakthrough starts want to solidify their names in Para archery history 18 May 2021 By IPC

The Tokyo 2020 Para archery event will see 140 athletes (80 male, 60 female) fighting for gold across nine medal events, including individual men's and women's (W1, compound open, recurve open) and mixed pairs (W1, compound open, recurve open).

While it is always hard to predict the outcome of the competition, there are 10 athletes whose performance you should not miss. 

Zahra Nemati (IRI)

Nemati has been ticking off historical milestones in archery and breaking boundaries for female athletes since she won gold at the 2015 Asian Para Championships. After winning Paralympic gold in the women's individual recurve open at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, she targets her third in Tokyo. In London, she also became the first Iranian female Paralympic champion and in Rio competed at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Ⓒ World Archery

Matt Stutzman (USA) 

Also known as the “Armless Archer” for his unique shooting style with his feet, Stutzman is one of the most well-known faces in Para archery. Most recently, the American was one of the athletes featured in Netflix's ground-breaking Paralympic documentary 'Rising Phoenix'. Sutzman won silver in the men’s individual compound at London 2012 but lost in the round of 16 at Rio 2016. He decided to take a break from the sport before returning with high hopes. Stutzman has taken part in multiple able-bodied competitions since Rio 2016 to improve his skills and took bronze at the 2019 Worlds after losing 144-142 in a close semifinal against teammate Ben Thompson.

Ⓒ OIS Photos

Zhou Jiamin (CHN)

A role model on and off the archery range, Zhou is one of China’s top hopes for a gold finish at Tokyo 2020. The young archer won gold in the women’s individual compound open at the 2016 Paralympics. This accomplishment gave her a chance to make a difference back home as a representative of the People’s Congress in her home city Zhejiang, where she interacted with people with disabilities. Two years ago, she picked up two team golds at the World Championships.

Ⓒ Getty Images

David Drahoninsky (CZE)

Drahoninsky is a role model of consistency in Para archery. His long list of accolades goes back to his gold in the men’s individual compound W1 at Beijing 2008. He followed that up with two silvers in the same event at London 2012 and Rio 2016. After almost two decades in the sport, the world No. 2 is still in top competitive form, most recently winning the bronze medal at the 2019 Worlds.

Ⓒ Alberga/World Archery

Jessica Stretton (GBR)

Stretton was a surprise winner in the women’s individual compound W1 at Rio 2016 as the youngest archer competing. At Tokyo 2020, the challenge will be far greater. Not only is Stretton getting more attention as a returning Paralympic champion, but she hopes to repeat the feat in a new division. The 21-year-old recently switched to the compound open in which she won silver at the 2019 Worlds, setting a new world record throughout. 

Ⓒ Getty Images

Bahattin Hekimoglu (TUR)

Hekimoglu had a lot of expectations placed on him coming to the 2019 World Championships as a European champion and top seed. He rose to the challenge in grand fashion, winning gold in the men’s W1 by beating China’s Li Ji 136-134 in a dramatic final, as well as helping Turkey to defend their W1 men’s team title. 

Ⓒ World Archery

Nur Syahidah Alim (SGP)

Alim proved she can withstand great pressure when she competed at the 2019 World Championships - her career first -. When her final duel in the women’s compound open went into a shoot-off, the Singaporean remained calm as she took down Paralympic champion Stretton to become her country’s first ever Para archery world champion.

Ⓒ World Archery

Suresh Selvathamby (MAL)

As a dazzling newcomer to the Para archery scene, Suresh Selvathamby is on the opposite end of the spectrum to the sports veterans. The Malaysian made his World Championships debut in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands in 2019 while ranked 35 in the world and left the competition with a gold medal in the men’s recurve open and the world No.1 ranking. Tokyo 2020 will be his first Paralympic Games.

Ⓒ World Archery

Elena Krutova (RPC)

Krutova has made stable progress since making her international debut in archery in 2014. The RPC athlete moved up from fifth place in the women’s W1 at the 2017 World Championships in Beijing to top spot at the 2019 edition of the tournament. Her gold in ’s-Hertogenbosch, where she beat South Korea’s Kim Ok Geum with a convincing 130-107 score in the final, was her first major individual title. To make the victory sweeter, it also helped to bump her to the world No.1 ranking in the women's W1.

Ⓒ World Archery

Harvinder Singh (IND)

Getting off a plane from Indonesia after winning gold at the 2018 Asian Para Games, Harvinder Singh was shocked to discover an airport full of people eager to greet him. India's top Para archer became a household name following such a victory, which has inspired him to set higher goals: qualify for Tokyo 2020 and climb onto the Paralympic podium for the first time.

Ⓒ Dean Alberga / DUTCHTARGET