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PHOENIX, Arizona - Today started the first U.S. Archery Team (USAT) Series Event of the year. As a World Ranking Event and Para World Ranking Event, the qualification day was also the first nomination shoot for the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials - Archery, and the U.S. Team Trials for World University Championships.
"It's always a good feeling when you finish on top," commented 2012 Paralympic Champion Jeff Fabry (Lemore, California) on his W1 men's first place finish. "The wind wasn't too bad, it was pretty constant, so just moving around a little bit. Not every shot broke the way I would have wanted it to, but it's day one, let's get ready for eliminations and go win it all!"
Kinga Kiss-Johnson (Cormick, South Carolina) who finished on top for the recurve open women commented: "I shot strong for it being the first tournament. Just coming back from surgery, it's a little challenging to get the nerves out. I started rough but finished strong." To combat nerves, Kinga says: "I try to focus on something in nature, like a tree [or lucky cactus in Arizona!] and just stare at it."
In the afternoon session, winds picked up and the field became increasingly challenging. Eric Bennett (Surprise, Arizona) was not expecting to finish the Trials in first with his scores: "It's surprising, I didn't have a very good day, but I think everyone battled the conditions, so I'm surprised to know I finished first in the trials but we all just keep doing what we can do, doing the best we can, and while I didn't have my best day, it was definitely just challenging conditions."
Yesterday we spoke with local Brian Bullis Jr. (Glendale, Arizona) - who also finished first in the recurve cadet division - about training with Eric for this event. The two have been shooting head to head regularly, betting on a Polar Pop. Eric commented: "It's been helping, Brian is in the final sixteen on the able body side [for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials] and it's good to train with someone who's a good shooter, we train hard and shoot matches that mean something, even though it's just a soda."
To aspiring young Paralympians, Eric shared: "To be honest, it's important to not give up, don't count yourself out. For example, today I didn't think I would finish where I did, but when everyone is facing the same conditions the scores are going to be lower, you may do you might be doing better than you think you are, so don't get down on yourself."
Kinga echoed that and said: "We take it one day at a time. Just go with it and stick with it."
Congratulations also to the winners of the U.S. Team Trials for World University Championships!
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