David Drahoninsky, 34, from the Czech Republic, is the current world champion in men’s W1 archery, a category for archers with some sort of disability that affects both their upper and lower body. He shoots a compound bow from a wheelchair, and won the gold medal at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing and silver at the 2012 Paralympics in London. He also broke his own world record for the 72-arrow round this year in January 2016, with a score of 676.
Because he dyes his hair crazy colors and hands out beers to fellow competitors, David is known as one of the biggest characters in archery. He is hunting for another medal in Rio.
HOW HE GOT STARTED
“Before my accident, I did taekwondo. So without a wheelchair I would have become an Olympic champion in taekwondo, of course.
“After my accident I began to study business at a special school for people with disabilities. While studying, I tried archery. That was in 2001. Later, I participated in a national team training camp. I shot with an ordinary wooden Olympic bow with a release, because a compound bow was too expensive then. The national team coach told me that if I worked hard I could win the Paralympics. So I started to work hard.”
WHEN HE FIRST STARTED DREAMING ABOUT A MEDAL
“Every athlete dreams about winning an Olympic or Paralympic gold medal. But when everyone wants to achieve the same goal, you have to be better than your opponents and do more in training than your opponents. Archery and sport is good, but you must learn how to lose. When you know how to lose, you can learn to win.
“I made this dream of winning a gold medal come true in Beijing, and I know I can do it again.”
WHAT HE HOPES TO ACHIEVE IN THE SAMBODROMO
“Of course, I want to share what I do best in life, and what I do is archery. So I would like to win a medal and expand my Paralympics medal collection.”
WHO HE IS GOING TO MAKE MOST PROUD
“My mother, my girlfriend, and my sister and her two sons and husband. I met my girlfriend last year in Germany and she is coming to Rio to support me.”
WHAT HE IS LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST ABOUT RIO
“I would like to see the statue of Jesus and ask Him to let me hold His thumb and oversee all athletes from the mountain. People will cheer, and we will show them how to shoot a bow when He will arrive at the Sambodromo.”
I’VE HEARD YOU GIVE OUT BEER TO OTHER ATHLETES. IS THAT RIGHT?
“At the World Championships in Germany, everyone else gave out pins, so I gave out the best Czech beer instead. I am the best in archery because I bring the best beer in the world. The best beer comes from the Czech Republic, as does the best compound W1 archer.”
WHAT ARCHERY MEANS TO HIM
“Archery is my life. I travel around the world, I meet a lot of great people and I do what I like! It’s a good teacher for life and a friend because what you give as an archer, archery will give back to you.”
IF HE COULD ONLY KEEP FIVE POSSESSIONS
“A good mood, positive thinking, a barrel of beer, archery equipment and my girlfriend.”
WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR TOMBSTONE TO SAY?
“I hope it would say: hard worker, sleeps on the archery field with his bow, good archer, Robin Hood, nice guy.”
Watch Drahoninsky represent the Czech Republic at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Sept. 7-18. Check out NBC’s full broadcasting schedule here, then tune into the archery action to see who brings home archery gold.