India’s Sarita seeds top as seven records fall on day one in Pilsen

Sarita shoots during qualifying in Pilsen.

An Indian archer qualified top individually for the first time at a World Archery Para Championships when Sarita set three world records this afternoon in Pilsen after shooting 697 out of a possible 720 points (one more than the previous world best) to take compound women’s pole.

“I’m really happy. It's a great day for me. I worked very hard for that and it allowed me to chill while shooting,” she said after the round.

Sarita also set a new compound mixed team record with Rakesh Kumar and a compound women’s double record with impressive 16-year-old armless archer Sheetal Devi, who came in only eight points down on Sarita with 689.

Belgium's Piotr Van Montagu, another archer who shoots with his legs, also had a strong showing – seeding second in the compound men’s event.

But it was China’s Ai Xinliang, a former World Archery Para Champion (2017) and Paralympic gold medallist, who beat Piotr to the top of that leaderboard, shooting 709 points to break Alberto Simonelli’s 72-arrow 50-metre world record by two and secure the first of China’s three world records on the day.

“I feel very excited,” said Xinliang after a qualification round that saw him improve his career best by 11, going over 700 for the first time in his life. “The weather today is very good, and the goddess of luck has taken care of me.”

Xinliang and teammate He Zihao’s combined result was enough to set a new compound men’s doubles record with 1411. The previous mark belonged to India with 1390.

Despite not competing internationally since finishing third at Tokyo 2020, the top seed considers himself a favourite in Pilsen.

“Every competition, a podium is my ultimate dream, and I always strive to do my best,” said Xinliang.

China could have had one last world record in the recurve women’s doubles event, with two-time world para champion Wu Chunyan and Wu Yang beating the previous qualifying record by 29 points (1213).

But they were outdone by a duo from Italy.

Top individual seed Elisabetta Mijno and the triple gold medallist from the last edition of these championships, which were held in Dubai in early 2022, Vincenza Petrilli, combined for four points more (1217) than the Chinese double. 

“I’m happy about the result. I’m not happy about the first part of the qualification round. I had some problems with aiming, but the second part was better,” said Mijno, whose 628 led Wu, in second, by 21 points. “I found my head! The wind also changed a bit, but mostly I changed my approach.”

Mijno shot halves of 302 and 326 points and was the only recurve woman to top 310 for the 36 arrows.

Competition in Pilsen continues with qualifying for the W1 and recurve men on Wednesday morning, before the first quota places for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games are awarded in the afternoon.

Top seeds: Pilsen 2023

Full results are available on the event page.

  • Recurve women: Elisabetta Mijno, Italy – 628
  • Compound men: Ai Xinliang, China – 709 (world record)
  • Compound women: Sarita, India – 697 (world record)
  • W1 women: Zhang Lu, China – 647

Qualification in the W1 men’s, recurve men’s and visually impaired events is still to take place.