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CHULA VISTA, California - After qualification earlier this week, a team round simulation and series of round robin matches today, USA Archery's three part trials series for the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Archery Team came to a close.
"It was a long and hard Trials process. I am so proud of the level of talent each competitor brought to the field. We have a really strong and awesome team together for Rio and we're going to bring home some medals," commented National Para Head Coach Randi Smith.
Leading the most competitive division on the field, Kevin Polish (Carmichaels, Pennsylvania) won the trials and sealed his spot for the Compound Open Men. "I've never done anything like this, we shot a lot in the Trials, but it was pretty fun. It's like anything, this is something I put my mind to. I had some people tell me I probably couldn't come back and do it since I've been out of competing for so long and so it is a really big deal, it means a lot to me to make the team."
Polish will be heading to Rio with Andre Shelby (Jacksonville, Florida) and Armless Archer Matt Stutzman (Fairfield, Iowa). Jonathan Mize is the team alternate. Shelby was emotional on making his first Paralympic team: "I don't actually have a lot of words for how it feels right now because I've been working on it so hard and for so long. I've really come a long way and my wife has sacrificed a lot for me to do this, I can't describe the feeling. It's unreal really."
"The Trials process started out kind of rough," commented Shelby on his climb this event from 5th place to 2nd. "The second trials really put me way down there, so I came here with the mindset that I'm going to shoot, have fun, and let it fall - and it all came together."
World Champion Eric Bennett (Surprise, Arizona) locked up his third Olympic Team spot when he won the Championships last year in Germany. Today, he also won the trials and locked up the top position. "It feels really good to win the Trials," he commented. "I had a goal going into today to win it regardless of the fact that I'd earned my spot already. It's important to me to win the Trials and to always be shooting my best. I want to be on top here and in Rio, I'm looking to bring home the gold this year."
Michael Lukow (Salt Lake City, Utah) just edged out teammate and now team alternate Timothy Palumbo (Williamsville, New York) for the final recurve open men's slot with Bennett. He commented: "At the moment, it's very bittersweet. I would much rather be going with Timmy than beating him out for the slot. But, I am really looking forward to representing the U.S. in Rio; it's been a long hard road to get here, it's really just bittersweet at the moment."
Samantha Tucker (Nampa, Idaho) won the trials process for the compound open women and pending the outcome of a bipartite decision she may be eligible for a spot in Rio.
Jeff Fabry (Leemore, California) and Lisa Coryell (LaCrosse, Wisconsin) locked up their places for the W1 division in Rio at the World Archery Para Championships. Fabry is the reigning Paralympic Champion and will be competing in his fourth consecutive Games while Coryell will be making her Paralympic debut after only 18 months of training. Jerry Shields was named as the w1 men's alternate.
All nominations are pending U.S. Olympic Committee approval.
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