Dominican Republic qualifies first-ever Olympic archer as 6 places awarded

Ahead of the second stage of the season’s Hyundai Archery World Cup in Medellin, national teams sent archers to a one-day world ranking tournament to battle for six tickets to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The places could only be won by athletes from teams that did not already have any spot in that category.

Thirty athletes from 12 nations fought for the three recurve men’s spots, while 14 competitors from seven countries entered into the recurve women’s draw. Archers ranked over a 72-arrow 70-metre round then advanced into head-to-head eliminations – and a maximum of one men’s and one women’s place could be taken by each country.

The six spots ended up going to six different nations…

1. Mexico  – 1 man

Olympic veteran Juan Rene Serrano, Luis Alvarez and Ernesto Boardman all made it into the semifinals, guaranteeing Mexico a place. Serrano was the top seed in the qualification event.

“We’re happy because now we know at least one of us will be in Rio,” Serrano said. “But we are working very hard for our big goal: to qualify a team in Antalya.”

The third stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup hosts the final team and individual Olympic qualifiers.

“We’re preparing hard, hope to be the team to beat and make it there,” Juan Rene added.

Boardman ended up winning the event, with Serrano second and Alvarez third. According to Mexican selection procedures, that means Ernesto Boardman won the place and is likely to fill it at the Games – unless, of course, the three can upgrade to a team place.

2. Venezuela  – 1 woman

“We worked hard for this place despite many problems back home,” said Mayra Mendez. She and top-seeded woman Leidys Brito both made the semis to secure the Venezuelan invitation. “We got the place. The hard work finally paid off.”

“All the matches were very close. I even won in a shoot-off against Cuba! Now we’ll have a selection tournament to decide who will represent Venezuela at the Olympics.”

Spaces are awarded to the National Olympic Committee of the athlete that wins them. The Olympic Committee then decides which athlete fills any place at the Games.

3. El Salvador  – 1 man

The last El Salvadorian archer to compete at the Olympics was Ricardo Merlos in Athens in 2004. The next should be in Rio, thanks to Oscar Ticas, who was the last non-Mexican left alive in the men’s qualification tournament in Medellin.

“I tried to make it before and it wasn’t enough,” explained Ticas. “Today I had a bit of pressure but it happened. This is a huge boost for us in El Salvador as it proves that if you train hard, you get the results.”

4. Canada  – 1 woman

“I’ve been working so hard for so many years, it’s just a dream come true,” said Georcy Thiffeault-Picard. She beat teammate Kateri Vrakking in the quarterfinals, but it turned out that whoever had won, Canada would claim an Olympic space.

“I didn’t want to have any expectations. I wanted to shoot good arrows and I succeeded in that. Archery Canada will now pick the girl [who will go to Rio], although I feel I’m in a good position for it.”

5. Chile  – 1 man

Guillermo Aguilar revealed that he was close to giving up archery in 2015.

“I wasn’t motivated for this year but now things are just happening,” he said. “Winning this place just has a special feeling. This is great.”

He lost a shoot-off to Mexican archer Luis Alvarez in the quarterfinals, 9-9, where if he had won, the spot would have been guaranteed. Instead, it went to a decision on 5-8 ranking, listed first by total set points in the last round then total score.

Despite the shoot-off loss, Guillermo was ranked fifth, good enough for the third and final available men’s spot.

6. Dominican Republic  – 1 woman

The Dominican Republic has the chance to send its first ever archer to the Olympic Games in Rio, after Yessica Camilo upset Cuba’s Elizabeth Rodriguez in a shoot-off.

The quarterfinal match, between 12th seed Yessica and fourth-ranked Elizabeth, decided which of the two nations took the third women’s place available in Medellin.

“We have never been to the Olympics before so this is just amazing,” said Yessica, who shot an eight with her tiebreaker arrow before her opponent put down a seven.

“We’ll train hard to give our best in Rio. We’re five women, so I guess we’ll have a selection shoot to decide who will go to the Olympics, but for the moment I’ll take the happiness and the credit!”

To take up the place, Yessica – or one of her Dominican Republic teammates – needs to shoot the minimum qualifying score, which is 600, in a world record status competition. She scored 557 out of 720 points in Medellin.

Road to Rio: Continues

Two chances to claim places for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games remain.

European archers can take one of the six places available at the continental championships in Nottingham, Great Britain in May. The final world qualifier is part of the third Hyundai Archery World Cup stage of the season in Antalya, Turkey, in June. 

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