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ROSARIO, Argentina - This week's World Archery Youth Championships, brought over 500 of the world's best archers to one of the most prestigious international competition stages for this biannual event. Today, eligible athletes competed to earn quota slots for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, similar to the way the U.S. earns Olympic and Paralympic quota slots at the World Archery and World Archery Para Championships.
Recurve athletes born between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2003 are eligible for the Youth Olympic Games. The next installment of the Youth Olympic Games will be contested in Buenos Aires, Argentina next summer, and thirty-two quota places were awarded today, a maximum of one per gender per country. USA athletes earned the maximum one male and one female quota slots available. The U.S. Team Trials to determine who will fill those slots will be held in conjunction with the 2018 SoCal Showdown next June.
The tournament consisted of elimination matches starting from a 1/48th round, with archers seeded in the top 8 earning a bye into the 1/16th round. Needing only to pass the 1/16th round to guarantee a spot, the U.S. archers, Inga Pever (Houston, Texas) and Andrew Park (Marana, Arizona) were successful and continued even further in the competition.
Ranking 25th for the women, Pever had a bye into the second round. The match was back and forth with Malaysia's Kamarajan - Kamarajan took the first set, but Pever came back to win the next two, bringing the score to 4-2 in her advantage. Then, Karamajan had a set win to balance at a 4-4 tie, but Pever clinched the match with a 22 to Kamarajan's 19 to take the win and advance.
Next, Pever faced 7th ranked archer Shuwei Zhao of China for a tough battle. This time, Zhao took the first set, and while Pever claimed the second, Zhao was up 4-2 by the end of the third. Despite crazy winds, Pever found her shot and took the next two sets for an incredible comeback, another 6-4 victory and the U.S. Youth Olympic Games quota slot.
Continuing in the competition, Pever had another five set match, this time against No. 24, Naumova of the Ukraine. The two split the first set with 27s, then went back and forth to reach a 5-5 tie. In the shootoff, it was Naumova who scored higher and took the win.
Park, ranked 7th, had a simpler path to securing a male slot for the U.S. Needing just one win, he took an early lead over No. 26, Ivan Banchev of Bulgaria. Banchev took the second set and the pair split the third to bring the score to 3-3, but Park brought it back in the strong winds and scored solid 28 and 26 to Banchev's 20 and 14 to advance and to secure the U.S. an athlete at the Youth Olympic Games next summer.
Continuing for honors, Park took a strong 6-2 win in the 1/8th round over Ovchynnikov of the Ukraine before a 6-2 end in the quarterfinals to No. 47, Urbina Zapata of Mexico who had been shaking the brackets all morning with near perfect scores.
Photo: World Archery
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