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London, United Kingdom - After a dramatic semifinals win and a strong finals finish, Jeff Fabry (Tulare, Calif.) has won the United States' first Paralympic gold medal in archery since 1984.
In his semifinals meeting with Canada'sNorbert Murphy in the men's compound W1 category, Fabry started out strong, winning the first set and tying the second. However, an equipment failure rendered his bow unable to shoot, and he spent the entire third set switching bows, resulting in three misses in the third set.
With the score at 3-3 and his backup bow in hand, a win seemed questionable for Fabry. However, Fabry didn't miss a beat, taking the fourth set with a 27 to regain the lead and take the score to 5-3. In the fifth set, Fabry closed the door on his opponent, clinching his spot in the gold medal match with a dramatic 7-3 victory versus Murphy, who would eventually win bronze.
In the gold medal match, Fabry faced an equally tough opponent in David Drahoninsky (CZE), the number one seed in the competition. Each archer took a win in the first two sets, making it a 2-2 match. However, Fabry shot a 29 in the third set to go up, 4-2. With three arrows remaining, Fabry delivered, winning the set and the match to take the first Paralympic medal for the U.S. in archery since 1984 - and the country's first gold medal in an Olympic or Paralympic Games since 1996.
Matt Stutzman (Fairfield, Iowa) alsostarted out strong in the men's compound open group, first facing Spain's Guillermo Rodriguez Gonzalez in his semifinal match. Rodriguez Gonzalez took an early two set point lead, but Stutzman came back to tie the score at 2-all. Gonzalez claimed two more set points, forcing Stutzman to win or tie to stay in the match. With a 28 to his opponent's 26, Stutzman tied the match for a thoroughly excited crowd - and with a perfect 30, ended with a 6-4 match win and a berth in the gold medal final.
Facing Jere Forsberg (FIN), Stutzman was cool under pressure in his first Paralympics appearance despite an enormous amount of publicity around him during the past year. Shooting a 29 for his first set, Forsberg was stronger with a 30, and took the first two points. In the second set, Forsberg posted another 30, to gain a 4-0 lead. However, Stutzman tied the third set to get on the board with a 1-5 score, and then won the fourth outright, making it a 3-5 match. In the final set, both archers shot perfect 30s under incredible pressure, giving Stutzman a silver medal, 3-7 versus Forsberg, who claimed the gold.
Eric Bennett (Surprise, Ariz.) also took a turn for Team USA today, starting in the semifinals of the recurve men's standing category. In his first match, he faced Timur Tuchinov of the Russian Federation, who started out by claiming the first set, 2-0 versus Bennett. In the second set, Bennett mounted a comeback to tie it, 2-2, but Tuchinov took the next two sets, sending Bennett to compete for the bronze, while Tuchinov would eventually take the gold medal.
In his bronze medal matchup, Bennett met Mikhail Oyun (RUS), who took an early lead and never looked back. With both archers putting up strong scores, Oyun's were just strong enough to help him win the bronze medal versus Bennett, who took a 4th place individual finish for these Paralympic Games.
"My semifinal loss was to the number one ranked archer in the world, the current world record holder, and now the Paralymic gold medalist," commented Bennett in a post to his fans. "My bronze medal match loss was to the number two ranked archer and the former world record holder. If you have to lose, that's the way to go out."
Today's medal wins from Fabry and Stutzman, coupled with Bennett's high individual finish, cap off a successful Paralympic Games for Team USA archers. For our recaps, visit http://www.usarchery.org; for complete results and photos, visit http://www.worldarchery.org.
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