Top 5 tips to get started in Para archery from history-making champion Nemati

Nemati, the first Iranian woman to win a gold medal at either a Paralympic or Olympic Games, says having patience and hope are key to success in the sport that has taught her many important things in life 20 Sep 2022
A female athlete on a wheelchair is pulling a bow at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Zahra Nemati said she is aiming to achieve even more in her illustrious Para archery career.
ⒸTasos Katopodis/ Getty Images

Zahra Nemati’s career in Para archery is full of iconic achievements.

At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, she won the women’s individual recurve W1/W2 to become the first female athlete from Iran to claim a gold medal at either a Paralympic or Olympic Games.

Four years later, she competed at both the Paralympic and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

In the Brazilian city, she won the women’s individual recurve open for her second Paralympic gold medal and defended that title at the Tokyo 2020 Games held last year.

Nemati won her third individual Paralympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020. @Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Despite checking off milestone after milestone, Nemati says she has not reached her “ultimate goal” yet and there is more she wants to accomplish in the sport she loves.

The 37-year-old took up Para archery after an accident in 2004 left her with a spinal cord injury. Her success has inspired other women back home to take up Para sports. 

Here, Nemati shares her top tips on how to get started and succeed in Para archery, which are also the lessons she relies on as she aims for new heights.

“There are so many things I like about the sport," Nemati said. "Archery taught me how to live and it was like a life lesson. The five messages that I leave you with are things that archery taught me."

1. Build patience

If you think you are a person who gets tired quickly or if you have a low level of tolerance, you should not get into Para archery. If you are not patient on the path to success, please do not choose Para archery. 

Since we have difficult practice sessions and competitions are tough, you need to be patient to spend lots of hours practising.

2. Try more, work harder

In Para archery, you should be patient, you should work really hard and you should continue working hard. You also should rely on your own ability and have a good control of your mind.

3. Keep hope

When things are not in the right place and when everything is a mess, do not lose hope. The key to success is continuing the hard work. During my sports career, throughout all these years, I have experienced lots of ups and downs, but I never lost hope.

4. Live in the present

The exact moment you want to do something is important. 

As an archer, I believe that every arrow has a story: it has a past, it has a present and it has a future. And the athlete is sending that arrow. You should not think about the past of the arrow or the future. It is the very moment you are in that makes the whole story.

5. Always have a goal 

You should never forget your dreams. 

I’m not used to speaking about my big goals aloud, but I believe that I have not reached that big, ultimate goal that I’m thinking about. I would like to still work hard in my sport and as I keep going, I would like to inspire people around the world to never succumb to difficulties.