Sunday marked the two-year countdown to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games! As Brazil prepares to host the world’s biggest celebration of sport, archers in the United States are setting their sights on Paralympic qualification.
Paralympic Games, Explained
According to U.S. Paralympics, “Archery has been a medal sport since the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960. Athletes with physical disabilities can showcase their shooting precision and accuracy either standing or in wheelchairs, depending on disability, in men’s and women’s categories.
The competition format is identical to that of the Olympic Games. Archers shoot 72 arrows from a distance of 70 meters at a target of 122 cm. A perfect score is 720.
Paralympic archery competition is open to male and female athletes with physical disabilities such as amputation/limb loss, spinal cord injury/wheelchair-users and cerebral palsy/brain injury/stroke.”
Strength in Numbers
For the first time in recent history, USA Archery has a strong team across almost all of the Paralympic archery competition classes. USA Archery is the National Governing Body for Olympic and Paralympic archery, selects and trains the members of Team USA who represent the United States at these events.
At the most recent Para World Ranking Event, the Americans took six medals in team and individual events, proving that USA Archery has increased the number of internationally competitive athletes who might help the United States to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
How Will Team USA Qualify for the Paralympic Games?
The Paralympic Games, like the Olympic Games, requires countries to qualify “spots” for athletes in order to compete. The number of athletes who can compete in the 2016 Paralympics depends on how many spots USA Archery is able to qualify. The major qualification event for archery is the 2015 World Archery Para Championships, and USA Archery will try to qualify Paralympic spots in these six categories:
Open Recurve Men’s
Open Recurve Women’s
Open Compound Men’s
Open Compound Women’s
Additional qualification opportunities will be available at a special archery qualification tournament and the 2015 Parapan American Games.
Paralympic Hopefuls to Watch
Watch Paralympic Champion Jeff Fabry – who won USA’s first Paralympic title since 1984 – as he attempts to secure a spot on his fourth Paralympic Team. Will he also add a fifth Paralympic medal to his collection? Jeff shoots in the W1 men’s category.
Matt Stutzman – known worldwide as the “inspirational archer” – uses his legs, feet and shoulder to shoot his bow, competing in the open compound men’s group. He claimed silver at London 2012 after just a few years of archery experience.
Last year, the United States also took its first-ever medal in the Open Compound Women’s category. Look for Martha Chavez – who was a member of that silver-medal-winning team – to shoot for a spot on the Rio squad.
Plenty of other archers seem poised to hit their mark in time for the 2016 Paralympic Games. These are just a few of the Paralympic hopefuls to watch:
Who Makes the Team?
Qualifying for the Paralympic Games is a separate process from team selection. While the U.S. must qualify spots in order to compete, USA Archery will then hold Team Trials events to determine which athletes will represent Team USA at the Paralympics. USA Archery has not released the final team selection criteria for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. However, a three-event Team Trials process has been proposed.
How Do I Follow the Action?
Watch Archery 360 and USA Archery for coverage of key events like the Parapan American Games (Toronto, Ontario) and the World Archery Para Championships (Germany), both taking place in 2015. USA Archery will provide full coverage of Rio 2016 qualification and team selection on its website and social media channels.