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May 14, 2024

The 'dream now becomes the goal' as Olympic and Paralympic teams confirmed for Paris

After 257 days, names are now known for the USA team being sent to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and include multi-Olympic medalist Brady Ellison and women’s world number one, Casey Kaufhold.

From Stage #1 in Malvern, Pa. last August, Ellison and Kaufhold have set the standard. Kaufhold will be joined on the plane to Paris by debutant Catalina GNoriega and Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez who – like Kaufhold – is set for a second Games.

“We are all genuinely so excited,” admitted Kaufhold. “The three of us girls have been talking about this since we’ve been shooting so well in team rounds the last few years so we’re super excited to have this opportunity.”

To date, the USA has claimed one quota slot in the men’s division for the Olympic Games. The maximum allowed is three. The Final Qualification Tournament (FQT) will be held next month with World Cup Stage #3 in Turkey.

Remaining quota slots will then be allocated to the host nation and other countries based on team world rankings. (Read the 2024 Olympic Games Qualification System).

Waiting to fill those two remaining slots are Trenton Cowles and Jack Williams. Like GNoriega, the Texas A&M collegiate archer Cowles would appear at a first Games, while Williams – as with Mucino-Fernandez – it would be a second after Tokyo three years ago.

Assistant National Head Coach, Chris Webster said, “This women’s team has been on fire last couple of years. They’ve been able to work with each other at high profile events and I couldn’t be happier to have them.

“Obviously Brady going is pretty solid, and really wanting the other two guys to fill the quota slots at the FQT or at a minimum for the world ranking piece but this is shaping up to be a really, really positive direction for us as a team and I'm really excited.”

GNoriega was an alternate for the Tokyo Games last time around. Her beaming smile said it all as the six sat digesting the day’s events, adding “I think it’s really special that we all get along really well. We’re really connected as a team and as people, and that’s really exciting.”

On the day the Olympic Trials ended, there were also slots filled on the Paralympic side, where a 15-year-old, who had not even been born when his teammate made his Paralympic Games debut, will make his first appearance at the Paris Games this summer.

Jordan White finished ahead of Eric Bennett in the recurve open men’s division, with both booking their berth to the Paralympic Games, which begin at the end of August.

Bennett will be appearing at his fifth Paralympic Games, having featured in Beijing (2008), London (2012), Rio (2016) and Tokyo (2020*). White, a freshman in high school and not 16 until November, will make his debut in the French capital.

The teenager from Austin, Texas – who has never been outside of the United States – will be boarding a flight for Paris later in the year as part of Team USA at the Paralympic Games.

“It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” White admitted. “But it means everything to me. I’ve worked so hard the past year to get to this point.”

Like his former high school teacher Bennett, this will also be a fifth Games for Ellison. He won team silver medals at the 2012 Games in London and 2016 Games in Rio, from where he also returned with an individual bronze.

He said after the team was known, “Everybody fought during Trials and everyone sitting here never gave up. They were serious about Trials. They took every point at Trials serious from starting a year ago and every arrow was shot with the intent of making the team, and that’s why we’re here.”

Cowles now heads north to Statesboro, Ga. for the 2024 USA Archery Collegiate Target Nationals. Ellison, Williams, Kaufhold, GNoriega and Mucino-Fernandez will board a flight to Korea for World Cup Stage #2.

The Paralympic Games team also includes KJ Polish, Matt Stutzman (compound open men) and Tracy Otto (W1 women). It will be a third Paralympic Games for Polish and a fourth for Stutzman. Stutzman was a silver medalist at the London Games. Polish suggests he is in the form of his life.

Otto, who only took up archery three years ago, could not contain her delight after having her place at the Paralympic Games confirmed on Monday afternoon, before severe weather delayed the conclusion of the recurve and compound portion of Trials.

She said on being presented with the official team jersey, “I lost it. I was crying. I was so at a loss for words. I couldn’t believe that we had done it, and I say ‘we’ because it’s not just me on this journey, it’s the community behind me, including (boyfriend) Ricky.

“Everything’s becoming real. It’s like ‘what, me, who, we did what, when, how?’ Just coming from where we did, to where we were almost dead to being a Paralympic athlete is unreal.”

There remains work to be done for all the athletes heading to Paris, but with places secured, there has been a shift in mindset according to Kaufhold, who said confidently, “The dream of winning gold is no longer just a dream, it’s now the goal.”

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