"A veteran came to talk to me after my accident, and he changed my life. Now I can give back.”
Media attention, more public appearances and even having a special day named after him; the USA’s Andre Shelby has seen his profile rise after winning Paralympic gold at Rio 2016.
Still, the 50-year-old archer has proven he can manage the attention that comes with being a Paralympic champion. He has had a solid 2017 season so far, and looks poised to roll that momentum into his next target: the World Archery Para Championships in Beijing, China, from 12-17 September.
“It [winning gold] really did not hit me until after I got back,” Shelby said. “My focus was on watching and supporting the team. But then when I came back to the States the spotlight was on.”
Shelby switched bows after the Paralympic Games and has shot between 100 and 144 arrows daily since September. He took first place in the compound open at the US Indoor National Championships in Albuquerque in February, just three points off the world record.
Three months later at the Juan Enrique Barrios Cup in Manati, Puerto Rico, Shelby, along with teammates Kevin Polish and Ben Thompson set a new world record for the compound men’s open team; they scored 2063 points in the ranking round.
“My scores are going up, so that keeps me feeling calm,” Shelby said.
Shelby, a US Navy veteran, said his focus and sharp concentration is what helped him through the Paralympics and would be his biggest strength entering the 2017 World Championships.
It is a skill he developed while in the Navy, and Shelby has found a way to give back to his military branch through several speaking engagements, sharing about life his life after injury.
“I’m able to give them an idea of what type of life they can have after an accident,” Shelby said. “A veteran came to talk to me after my accident, and he changed my life. Now I can give back.”
The Jeffersonville, Indiana, was recently honoured by his hometown. He was named Commodore of the Port and 7 August was designated “Andre Shelby Day.”
“I just want to have a good, solid time shooting. If I have a higher standard then it’s too much pressure and I mess up,” he said. “I try to separate myself from all the people and minimise the distraction.”