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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - In his Paralympic debut, U.S. Navy veteran and 2015 Parapan American Champion Andre Shelby (Jacksonville, Florida) conquered the brackets, climbing from a 12th place seed to the gold finish and Paralympic Champion title.
In a tough quarterfinal match, Shelby dropped a three-point lead to a two-point deficit in the fourth end with two arrows in the seven-ring. His opponent, Brazil's Andrey de Castro, who had just upset No. 4 seed and fan favorite USA's Matt Stutzman (Fairfield, Iowa) in the previous round then dropped five points in the final three arrows leaving the door open for Shelby to come back and take the win.
His semifinal match against eventual bronze medal winner Jonathan Milne of Australia also started with an early lead, dropped to a one-point deficit in the third end, and then came back to take the win again, by just a single point. In the gold final, Shelby opened behind Italy's Alberto Simonelli, but brought the score to a tie half way through the match. Closing out with two 29s, Shelby clinched the win 144-143.
Stutzman and Kevin Polish (Carmichaels, Pennsylvania) were two of the top four seeded archers from qualification and heavy favorites for medals. However, Polish, like Stutzman, faced an early upset in the 1/8th elimination. Stutzman, who won silver in London, shared: "Days like today, they happen." Stutzman had held the lead since the second end through to the final three arrows, but de Castro posted a perfect 30 to Stutzman's 27 to take the win by just one point 142-141. Polish fell 139-133 to Great Britain's Michael Hall in the same round.
Stutzman already has his eyes on the future and the next four years. "Whether I win or lose, I'm leaving a legacy for people to watch," Stutzman told World Archery. "Look at that guy, he has no arms, and he's shooting. He didn't let having no arms stand in the way of doing something he wanted to do, and for me that's what's important, changing just one person's life."
For complete results from the competition, visit www.worldarchery.org. Competition resumes for Team USA on Friday with Compound Open Women in the morning and W1 men in the afternoon.
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