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TORONTO, Canada - Team USA's top para archers are warming up in Toronto for the Parapan American Games. This prestigious, quadrennial competition, like the Paralympics, is a multi-sport event. The continental championship, combined with the World Archery Para Championships in Germany next month, are the most important archery events leading up to the Games next summer as the U.S. archers will have great international experience and the chance to qualify quota slots.
There will be 1 W1 men's slot, 1 W1 women's slot, 1 compound women's slot as well as 2 compound men, 2 recurve men, and 2 recurve women's slots up for grabs at the Parapan American Games. The top finishers in each event will earn those slots for their countries.
The U.S. Parapan and World Championships team will benefit from experienced archers and increased depth as a large team takes the field this upcoming weekend. 2013 World Archery Para Championships silver medalist Martha Chavez (Lemoore, California) will lead the compound women's team with Samantha Tucker (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and newcomer Kiran Cupeles (Carolina, Puerto Rico).
The compound men's squad is anchored by fan-favorite, 2012 Paralympic silver medalist Matt Stutzman (Salt Lake City, Utah), and will benefit from a fresh perspective from U.S. Veteran Andre Shelby (Jacksonville, Florida) and Ben Thompson (Ladson, South Carolina).
Lee Ford (Perry, Georgia) a 2012 Paralympian and 2011 Para Pan Am Games gold medalist will anchor the recurve women's open category. Teammates Natalie Wells (Manteca, California) and Kinga Kiss-Johnson (McCormick, South Carolina) will round out the trio. Wells has shot competitively for many years, and Kiss-Johnson - a soldier who was wounded in Afghanistan - is a relative newcomer on the international scene.
The recurve men's open category stars veteran Eric Bennett (Surprise, Arizona) a strong finisher at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Teammates Michael Lukow - a U.S. Army veteran from Salt Lake City, Utah - and Timothy Palumbo (Buffalo, New York) have both proven themselves as strong contenders in the recurve division.
Competition will begin with a qualification round and elimination matches through the semifinals this Sunday, August 9th. A complete schedule and results can be found here. For updates from the field, follow USA Archery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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