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November 22, 2023

Otto adds another quota slot and more gold as USA tops the medal table at the Para Pan American Games

Photo: Mark Reis/USOPC

SANTIAGO, Chile – Tracy Otto secured a quota slot on Wednesday for next year’s Paralympic Games in Paris as she was one of six archers to take individual medals on the final day of the Para Pan American Games.

Otto, who will celebrate her 28th birthday next Tuesday, defeated Mariela Lopez (CHI) 101-83 in the W1 open women division for the first of two gold medals on the day for the USA. KJ Polish capped a phenomenal year by claiming his second gold of the Games, winning the compound open men.

"The biggest emotion is, I'm so proud and so honored to be representing my country," said Otto. "When I first started, I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous but once I got set into my process, I felt at home and I felt ready. And when I found out I'd secured the gold I was just over the moon."

Polish, who won all four USAT events this year and took gold at the 2023 Chicago Para-Archery Championship, was perfect through the first three ends, eventually beating Diego Queseda (CRC) 145-142.

"I've won a lot of tournaments, but I'd never won at the Para Pan American Games," admitted Polish. "So that was my goal before Paris. I wanted to come here, I wanted to win, I wanted to set a couple of records, but the biggest thing is that me and my teammate Wendy (Gardner) did the most historic thing. We're the first people to set a mixed team record and to win the gold. My next goal is to win the Paralympic gold."

Jason Tabansky secured silver in the W1 men open division, while Eric Bennett tied a neat bow around an incredible all-round team performance in the last match of the competition with silver in the recurve open men.

Wendy Gardner collected an individual bronze in the compound open women, to go with the mixed team gold she won alongside Polish on Tuesday. She held her nerve in a one arrow shootoff to overcome Yasneide Penaranda (COL) after the scores were locked at 131-131.

Candice Caesar came up big when it mattered in a back-and-forth bronze medal contest with Karen Rocha (MEX). Trailing 4-2, she shot her best score of 27 to take the fourth set, then landed a huge 10 in set number five for a 6-4 win. Like Gardner, she also heads home with a mixed team gold and individual bronze.

In all, the USA’s archers return home with eight medals - enough to top the medals table – as well as two quota slots for next year’s Paralympics, earned by Otto in the W1 open women and, on Monday, by Bennett in the recurve open men.

The USA now has five quota slots for the 2024 Games, with two in recurve open men, two in compound open men and one in W1 open women. Each country can win a maximum of two quota places in each category.

The final opportunity for the USA to win quota slots will be at the third and final qualifier in Dubai, UAE in February 2024.

As with the Olympic Games qualification process, archers do not qualify for the Paralympics directly but must win quota places for their country. There is then a USA trials process, outlined below.

The 2024 Paralympic Trials Qualification and Trials events will be comprised of three stages:

  • Stage #1 Paralympic Trials Qualification Event will be held with the 2024 Arizona Cup on April 4.
  • Stage #2 Paralympic Trials Qualification Event will be held with the 2024 Gator Cup on May 11. Following Stage #2 there will be a cut to the top eight.
  • Stage #3 Paralympic Trials will be a stand-alone event following the 2024 Gator Cup on May 12.

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