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May 02, 2021

Para Archery Trials for Tokyo 2020 and 2022 World Para Championships Begin Alongside Gator Cup

NEWBERRY, Florida – The nation’s top para archers took the field this weekend for the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Trials – Archery, Stages 1&2, the 2022 World Archery Para Championships and the Para USAT Gator Cup. The two days were jam packed with intense competition.

The COVID-19 pandemic postponed the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics one year, the first postponement of the Games in history, and in light of the global health situation, the international calendar was cancelled for a year and national rankings were frozen for para athletes.

Many Tokyo hopefuls faced incredible challenges during the break, overcoming great obstacles to be able to compete in these Trials events. Lia Coryell battled COVID-19 and several hospital stints for pneumonia, heart failure and kidney failure, but has not given up.

“I think of the notes, the pictures and the kids and people that come up to me [in support]” she told earlier this year. “And I’m like, ‘if you quit, you’re negating everything you’ve done in your lifetime’. So I’m like, all right, keep fighting. And I did.’”

She secured the U.S. a quota spot for the W1 women at the Tokyo Paralympics at the Para Pan American Championships in late March, and then shot strong through the Trials. While Coryell is the U.S.’s only female W1 archer, she’s pushing herself hard, with a record 133/150 score in match play today.

Emma Rose Ravish also secured the U.S. a quota spot in March and went on to win both qualification rounds of the Trials for the recurve women open division. Competing against recently classified up and coming talents, Ravish cleared both rounds with margins more than 100 points clear the rest of the field each day, but faced a tough matchup in eliminations, finishing with silver behind Alexandria Allen. Candice Caesar claimed bronze.

The recurve men open have two quota spots secured for Tokyo 2020, with four strong talents contending for those spaces. Reigning world silver medalist Eric Bennett topped both stages of the Trials, winning both qualification rounds with solid margins.

“It was really good to shoot consistently both days, put up decent scores and finish first,” shared Bennett. “It was especially nice to get back on the archery field and compete after so long off; to see everybody, that was definitely a cool thing.”

He added: “Our divisions is very competitive, there are four of us at the top competing for the two spots, so I knew I had to come out with a good showing for these first two stages and I’m happy with my performance.”

Bennett won team gold at the 2019 World Archery Para Championships alongside Timothy Palumbo and Michael Lukow, the same trio that represented Team USA at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Palumbo finished stage 1 in second and Lukow was fourth behind Kevin Mather. Stage 2 saw Mather jump to second while Palumbo and Lukow were third and fourth respectively. The competition for the two coveted Paralympic spots will be cutthroat heading into the final stage next month.

The U.S. has also secured the maximum three quota spots for the compound men open. Their Trials competition was postponed further however, after their division was no longer viable to compete this weekend per the COVID-19 mitigation protocols.

They were able to compete in the Para USAT Gator Cup today, and Matt Stutzman claimed the top seed and won gold outright with consistently high scores in matchplay. His 142-130 decisive final win sealed his victory over reigning world champion Ben Thompson, who qualified second and finished with silver.

Reigning Paralympic Champion Andre Shelby did not compete this weekend, but with the level of talent in a deep and competitive division, it is to be sure that the fight for Paralympic spots will be heated when their competition begins, likely next month.

While the U.S. has not yet secured Paralympic quota spots for the compound women open or W1 men’s divisions, there is one last chance on the table, and the archers in those divisions began their Trials for the World Archery Para Championships as well. Martha Chavez, coming back from surgery, persevered and won both Stage 1&2 of the Trials and taking gold in the Gator Cup.

Fresh talent Wendy Gardner and Erev King were second and third through the two stages of the Trials; Gardner finished eliminations with silver and King with bronze. Eric Lindsay was the sole W1 men’s competitor. New to the national stage, Lindsay’s scores improved consistently throughout the Trials process.

Complete results from the Trials are available here and the Gator Cup, here. The final stage of the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Trials – Archery will be June 3 in Chula Vista, California.

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