Panariello captures ‘magical’ win in Pilsen – in memory of his brother

Matteo Panariello, World Archery Para Championships Pilsen 2023

Visually impaired archer Matteo Panariello secured his first international title at the World Archery Para Championships last week in Pilsen – and it was a special one. (The competition was streamed delayed today.)

“I’m so happy. I don’t have enough words to explain what I feel now,” he said after leaving the arena last Saturday. “I’m the world champion!”

Panariello, competing in the visually impaired 1 category – and wearing a blindfold to limit all sight like his peers in the competition – won all his matches in straight sets, including the final against Australia's Craig Newbery.

“I would like to dedicate this medal to my brother, whom I lost two years ago. He had a dream to see me win a world medal, and now I won it. It’s only for him,” said Panariello.

This was a return to the city that brought his first international appearance – and win – at the European Championships in 2018.

“I said Pilsen was a magical city for me. Now I returned here and won another gold medal. I worked so strong to be here,” said the 35-year-old.

Second-placed Newbery had upset defending champion Ruben Vanhollebeke in the semifinals.

“I missed the bronze medal match in a one-arrow shoot-off last year, so it’s great to come back this year,” Newbery said before his final, having lost a tiebreak in Dubai in 2022. “I had the whole year to think about it. It’s practice, practice and practice.

“You practise that one-arrow shoot-off, and it pays off.”

Vanhollebeke took bronze after beating Christos Misos from Cyprus, 6-2.

Steve Prowse, World Archery Para Championships Pilsen 2023

Great Britain’s Steve Prowse collected his third world title in the visually impaired 2/3 category, for archers with some limited vision, since World Archery introduced the divisions in 2015. (Championships were previously held separately.)

“It’s been one of the better ones this time,” said the soft-spoken visually impaired veteran.

The 64-year-old archer was in a 5-1 lead when Italy’s Daniele Piran started chasing him in the fourth set. After Piran’s last arrow, which landed in the six, Prowse needed an eight to claim the title.

“I was shaking when I shot,” he said.

But Prowse resisted the pressure and – after waiting a couple of seconds after releasing his final arrow – heard the speaker confirm the win with his arrow call, ‘an eight’.

“It was so fantastic. I thought it was going to another shoot-off,” said Prowse, who previously took the titles in Donaueschingen in 2015 and Den Bosch in 2019.

Bronze went to fellow British archer Nicholas Thomas.

Visually impaired archers shoot over 30 metres and matches use the set system.

Competition in Pilsen finished on Sunday 23 July but the visually impaired finals were delayed live-streamed on World Archery’s YouTube channel on Wednesday 26 July.

Visually impaired champions: Pilsen 2023