Debutants Unruh, Rebagliati win recurve titles at World Games

Florian Unruh celebrates winning the Birmingham 2022 World Games.

Germany’s Florian Unruh and Italy’s Chiara Rebagliati have won the men’s and women’s recurve field archery titles in their debut appearances at the World Games, which is taking place in Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

“I am pretty happy with how I shot,” said number two seed Unruh about his performance in the finals arena which saw him shoot clean on the middle two targets of the four-target course.

“I could have been a little bit better at the first target but then I had two perfect 18s. With the last arrow, I was like, ‘do not do a bad shot, do not do a bad shot’, and I aimed a little bit off because of the wind. It does not matter.”

If that last arrow had hit six – rather than four – he would have shot a third perfect 18 on the 60-metre target over the lake, too.

Unruh beat top seed Brady Ellison, 66-61, to gold despite the host nation’s favourite leading after the first three arrows.

And Ellison was not happy with himself.

“I am pissed,” he said. “Florian shot great, so keeping up with him would have been hard. But I shot two shots that I knew I shouldn’t have which were just dumb, mental mistakes that I am pissed about.”

“[I’m] not so much [pissed] about [winning] silver, but just shooting those two shots and not giving myself a chance.”

“If I would have let those two down and shot them the way I wanted to do, a loss would have been different. But it’s the fact that the two 4s I shot, I knew I was going to shoot them… it’s just effing dumb,” continued Ellison.

“I am better than that. I’m hot and tired… just laziness and it cost me. It won’t happen at the worlds.”

The next World Archery Field Championships are scheduled to take place later this year, also in the US, in Yankton. Ellison has won those before – but the other major international field title, this one at the World Games, continues to elude him.

He had said during qualification that he was determined not to repeat his silver medals from 2013 and 2017. But a third consecutive runner-up finish for Brady was exactly what it turned out to be in 2022.

The consummate professional remained on the practice field for about an hour after the medal ceremony, perhaps working out the frustrations of another missed gold medal – or perhaps looking to reset for his upcoming appearance at the fourth stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Medellin, which is coming up just next week.

Ellison had seen off Great Britain’s Patrick Huston, 64-55, in their semifinal in the arena, while Unruh dispatched Italian archer Marco Morello, 64-58, in their final four match. Morello, another World Games debutant, would go on to win bronze, defeating Huston, 61-52.

“It feels good. I am very tired but I feel good,” said the 29-year-old.

“I am at the World Games for the first time and I won a medal. It is very important for me. I did not start very well at the first target but the second one was very good. I took some points of advantage but I knew my opponent could come back so I had to shoot good.”

Chiara Rebagliati would crown Italy’s medal count in the competition when she defeated Bryony Pitman, 64-53, in the recurve women’s final.

“I am very happy, I have to realise this victory and I am so proud of myself,” said the 25-year-old. “Every day I shot a little bit better so I came to the final very strong. It is a big win for me.”

The World Games debutant had seeded third, behind Pitman in second and pole qualifier Elisa Tartler of Germany. But she ended up beating both in the finals arena, first Tartler by four points (61-57) and then Pitman by a comfortable nine.

“I shot good. Maybe arrow by arrow I did not understand well what I was doing and what was happening but, maybe, that is the reason that I won,” said Rebagliati.

“Bryony is a very strong archer and we were together every time at the European or world junior championships. It is always a pleasure to have a final with her.”

Pitman defeated Slovenian last-minute entrant Urska Cavic in the semis, 56-53 – but couldn’t find footing in the final. (Cavic replaced Ana Umer.)

“I am a little bit disappointed. I could have shot better out there today, but even if I shot better, Chiara did not give me a chance,” said a gracious Pitman. “Based on today’s matches, she deserved the gold.”

Tartler would beat Cavic to the bronze medal, 57-53.

“It is incredible. I am really out of words,” said Tartler, who led throughout the third-place match. “I was really, really nervous in the beginning. I was like, ‘oh, my body is shaking’, but the second match was much, much better and I was more confident.”

Competition at the World Games continues with barebow qualifying on Wednesday.

Podiums: 2022 World Games

Check full results on the World Archery website.

Recurve men

  1. Florian Unruh, Germany
  2. Brady Ellison, USA
  3. Marco Morello, Italy

Recurve women

  1. Chiara Rebagliati, Italy
  2. Bryony Pitman, Great Britain
  3. Elisa Tartler, Germany