With just five months to go until the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, US archer Matt Stutzman has said he is aiming to continue his recent good form and qualify for his second Paralympic Games.
Last year the 32-year-old achieved top two finishes in every international event he entered, earning him the accolade of being the top ranked para-archer in the United States. He believes that he is hitting form at the correct time.
“This last year was one of my best as a professional archer,” said Stutzman who won silver in the men’s individual compound open at London 2012 and is known as the “Armless Archer” due to his impairment.
“It is a big year for me as the Toronto Games are coming up where the Paralympic Committee gives a spot to the Paralympic Games for the winner.”
In addition to aiming to do well in Toronto, the 32-year-old is also targeting success at the Para-Archery World Championships which take place between 23-30 August in Donaueschingen, Germany.
“I am specifically targeting and focusing on the World Championships as if I win the tournament I automatically get to go to Rio and like most athletes, the Paralympics is the pinnacle of their sport.”
Although Stutzman’s recent form is impressive, he is under no illusion as to the hard work required to be successful at the big events when competing alongside those at the top of the sport.
One aspect he is focusing on is the mental side of his game with the American alluding to it as a potential weakness when it comes to competing.
“I feel like I’m close to challenging for a medal and my preparation on the mental side of my game has been really thorough. If I can keep my head together I believe I can medal.”
Stutzman heads into the year with the knowledge of competing and defeating many of those tipped to do well in the upcoming Games but knows he cannot expect anything based on past performances:
“Since I have competed against my competitors several times and have beaten them in the past it gives me some confidence knowing I can win but I’ve got to remain humble and realise they’re very good archers.”
The Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games will take place between 7-15 August. Around 1,600 athletes from 28 countries will compete in 15 sports. Archery will take place at the city’s Varsity Stadium.