JP Boulch wins back-to-back titles on home soil in Nimes

Jean Philippe Boulch shoots during the final at the Nimes Tournament in 2022.

French compounder Jean Philippe Boulch won his second consecutive title at the Nimes Archery Tournament as European Champion Lisa Barbelin, Sarah Prieels and Felix Wieser also took individual golds at the first of the two elite stops comprising the Indoor Archery World Series in 2022.

Boulch, the imposing left-hander, pulled two points ahead of compatriot Nicolas Girard in the third end of their final and rode the advantage to victory, 147-145.

“No finals field is easy,” said Boulch. “The fact that I won last year did not change how I entered this final because it’s a different tournament, with different sanitary measures and more public than usual nowadays.”

Although there was no open ticketing, the stands in Nimes’ Parnasse area were full with many of the 700-plus archers that competed in the event.

It was a far greater number of physical eyes than during Boulch’s victory 12 months ago – when attendance in Nimes was restricted to just over 100 world-class participants.

“I won, I’m happy. It’s a great weekend,” he added.

Boulch’s match against Girard was one of two all-French finals to close the weekend. In the other, European Champion Lisa Barbelin took on under-18 world champion Caroline Lopez for the recurve women’s gold.

The pair produced an absolute thriller.

Lopez opened with back-to-back perfect 30s – before Barbelin responded in kind to draw the match level at four set points apiece.

Shooting last, the youth world champion had a chance to dispatch her Olympian opponent, who had shot a 29 in the fifth, but could not find the 10. The match was sent a shoot-off.

Barbelin clipped the 10-ring high-right in the tiebreak and Lopez could not beat it.

“It’s an explosion of emotions. I’m so happy with what happened. It was a crazy match from beginning to end,” said Lisa. “Caroline was very impressive and I’m so proud of where we both are today.”

The home contingent in Nimes had a chance to secure a third win in the compound women’s event where Sandra Herve met Belgium’s Sarah Prieels in the final.

It took time for Prieels to get comfortable and afterwards, she explained that the high-contrast lighting in the arena was a tough change from the soft and yellow practice range, but she grew stronger as the match progressed.

A one-point advantage heading into the final end morphed into a four-point victory, 145-141, when Sarah finished with three 10s and Sandra with three nines.

This year’s event in Nimes saved its best match for the very last.

Like JP Boulch, Steve Wijler entered the arena with a shot at defending his title at this famous indoor tournament. In the final, he faced the number one seed in the recurve men’s event, Germany’s Felix Wieser, making his major stage indoor medal match debut at the age of 28.

That inexperience would quickly prove irrelevant as Wieser opened with a set of 30 points to Wijler’s 29.

It was the Dutchman’s second arrow of the opening volley that leaked out of the middle, landing square to the right in the top face of the triangular targets in use for the very first time in matchplay on the Indoor Archery World Series.

That arrow would be the last arrow that would score less than perfect in this final.

Wijler would go on to shoot four perfect sets – exceptional, by any standard – but Wieser shot five, taking victory, 6-4.

“It’s your day or it’s not your day. When it’s your day, it’s easy,” he said. “When it’s not your day, it’s maybe impossible. Today was my day.

“It’s an incredible feeling. I’ve been here many times and it’s the first time I’ve shot in a medal final, to win feels just great.”

The medallists in Nimes secured elite ranking points towards qualification for the Indoor Archery World Series Finals, which will take place in two weeks’ time, on Saturday evening at the Vegas Shoot.