One world, five Paralympic records fall during morning qualifying in Tokyo

Four top seeds, four Paralympic record breakers.

Archers shooting in the first qualification session at Tokyo 2020 broke all four available individual Paralympic records and set the first-ever mixed team record at the Games.

Four categories shot their 72-arrow qualifying round this morning at Yumeonshima Park.

China’s Wu Chunyan and Chen Minyi, Great Britain’s Jess Stretton and Turkey’s Nihat Turkmenoglu took the top individual seeds, each setting a record in the process.

Wu, the recurve women’s world para champion, bested her own record from Rio by five, shooting 642 points to come in ahead of Elisabetta Mijno of Italy and two-time Paralympic Champion Zahra Nemati.

“I’m still not so satisfied with my level,” said Chunyan, who has won the worlds twice but is still in search of her first Paralympic Games crown. “I need to reach a better level.”

Her Chinese teammate Chen shot 25 points more than her nearest competitor to lead the W1 women, beating the standing record by six with 640.

That record was previously held by Stretton, the youngster who won the W1 event at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games but is now competing in the compound women’s competition – and set her own new record here in Tokyo.

She came in at the top of a list of a whopping 12 archers who beat Zhou Jiamin’s Paralympic record of 674 points from Rio.

The 21-year-old Brit dropped just nine points over her back 36 arrows to steal the lead from experienced Russian archer Stepanida Artakhinova in the closing shots, eventually finishing one point ahead. Stretton’s final score of 694 is a 20-point improvement on the old record and just one away from the world record for the category.

“I had a bit of a rookie start, I’m not going to lie,” said bookworm Jess. “I could come back and I’m very happy with how I shot most of the ends.”

Oznur Cure, Jane Karla Gogel, Maria Andrea Virgilio, Lin Yueshan, world champion Nur Syahidah Alim and Julie Chupin all broke 680 points. Li Xinru, Sevgi Yorulmaz, Karen Van Nest and Farzaneh Asgari also finished above the old record score.

Zhou, the old record holder and defending Paralympic Champion, had a disappointing result of 655 points.

Nihat Turkmenoglu’s score of 661 points topped the W1 men and beat the standing Paralympic record by 13.

“I’m so happy and proud of myself, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I will never forget this. It’s really important in my career and now I think I’ve reached the top level.”

Although the mixed team event made its Paralympic debut five years ago at Rio 2016, World Archery did not recognise qualification any records for the pairs events at the time.

This changed in 2018, when they were officially added to the rulebook.

In Tokyo, it meant that all the top seeds in the three mixed team competitions were guaranteed to set new Paralympic records – but Chen Minyi and Zhang Tianxin went one step further.

The Chinese duo’s combined qualifying score of 1290 points also broke the W1 world record for the round.

“I’m very excited about the result,” said Chen. “I feel confident about the matches and fighting for a gold medal.”

Two more mixed team Paralympic records are guaranteed during this afternoon’s qualifying session, when the recurve and compound men’s 72 arrows are complete.

If this morning’s trend continues, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more individual marks fall, too.