USA begins Donaueschingen finals with double-gold haul

Jeff Fabry, Jerry Shields and Charles Lear won the W1 men’s category, then Matt Stutzman, Andre Shelby and Ben Thompson were victorious in the compound men’s open competition in Donaueschingen, Germany.

The W1 men defeated their Russian counterparts in a shoot-off, 25-22, having tied at 194 apiece after the regulation 24 arrows, and the compound men were victorious over Turkey, 224-214.

For many of the team, it was their first taste of world championship success – and it showed. While the vastly experienced Jeff Fabry, 2012 Paralympic Champion, was no less ecstatic.

“You can’t describe the feeling,” he said. “I am on such an emotional high right now.”

“It’s great to win the gold medal alongside these guys and hopefully there are many more to come.”

It was Team USA’s third attempt at winning the W1 team gold, having finished second in each of the previous two worlds.

Charles Lear missed the target at the start of the second end, but regained his composure to finish strong and help earn the USA its first medal of the event. His closing 10 got the loudest cheer.

“When I missed the shot I knew the guys could pick me up and that’s exactly what they did. It’s what being on a team is really about,” explained Lear.

In the compound men’s final, the States were always in control after a Turkish arrow failed to score in the first end, but they continued to shoot impressively to win by ten points.

Matt Stutzman, the famous armless archer, joked afterwards that if he did have arms you would have been able to see them shaking. The adrenaline was flowing, in no small part thanks to the full-strength Team USA contingent supporting from the stands.

“We travel pretty well as a team and hearing everybody cheering us on definitely helped motivate us,” said Matt. “I really haven’t been on a better team. At the end of the day that is why we are here, for Team USA.”

Stutzman was in the stands when it was his turn to support the USA recurve men’s open team in a bronze medal final against China. Despite the cheers, the Asians came up trumps – starting the last set 10-10-10-10, and finishing with a nine, eight to seal a confident, 6-0 win.

The United States has two more chances to increase its haul during the individual medal matches at Donaueschingen 2015.

Janice Walth shoots for VI1 gold, then recurve team member Eric Bennett goes for individual gold, against a Chinese athlete he faced in the team event.