Familiar faces such as Iran’s Zahra Nemati and the USA’s “armless archer” Matt Stutzman are expected to return to the Paralympic Games this summer, whilst there were other names who emerged from the 2015 World Championships and could be on target for Rio 2016.
Eric Bennett (USA)
Bennett surprised many at the 2015 World Archery Para Championships in Donaueschingen, Germany. Although the eighth seed in the recurve men’s open division, he defeated Russia’s top-ranked Bato Tsydendorzhiev and Iran’s eventual bronze medallist Gholamreza Rahimi, en route to winning gold. Bennett changed his recurve technique just months before World Championships and shoots with a mouth-tab. He is currently ranked third in the world.
David Drahonisky (CZE)
Drahonisky has consistently been one of the top para-archers in the world since his debut in 2003. He is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and won gold in the W1 category at the 2015 World Archery Para Championships, which turned out to be his first world gold ever. Drahonisky took gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics and silver at London 2012.
Ouk Soo Lee (KOR)
The veteran para-archer has been shooting for 26 years and has shown he can still contend for the podium at Rio. He won gold at the 2015 World Archery Para Championships, in the men’s compound open. During Barcelona 1992, his first Paralympic Games, Lee won a bronze medal in the team event. His team defended that medal at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympics, where he also won a gold medal in the men’s individual W2. Lee added another team Paralympic bronze medal in Sydney 2000, which was the last time he medalled at a Paralympic Games.
Matt Stutzman (USA)
Stutzman gained fame and notoriety as the iconic “armless archer” during London 2012. He won silver in the men’s individual compound open and hopes to turn that into gold at Rio. On 9 December 2015, Stutzman hit a target from 310 yards, breaking the longest Guinness-ratified distance by any individual in the world.
Bato Tsydendorzhiev (RUS)
The top-ranked Russian para-archer in the recurve open men’s division had a disappointing finish at the 2015 World Archery Para Championships where he finished sixth. Tsydendorzhiev started archery in 2011 and made his international debut in 2012, and he is looking for a comeback in Rio.
Zahra Nemati (IRI)
Nemati is one of the most popular Paralympians from Iran. She took gold at the 2015 Asian Para Championships and qualified to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics. At London 2012, Nemati set a Paralympic record and won the gold medal in the women's individual recurve W1/W2. She also claimed a bronze medal in the women's team recurve open. Nemati’s success resulted in significant media coverage in Iran and inspired other women to take up para-sport, especially archery.
Eleonora Sarti (ITA)
Sarti started her archery career in 2013 by winning a team bronze medal at the World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand. She switched sports from wheelchair basketball after discovering archery.. In just two years, Sarti has become world No. 1 and won gold in the women’s compound open at the 2015 World Archery Para Championships. Now she has her eyes on the podium in all her events at Rio 2016.
Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.
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