Last world championship, first medal for Lia Coryell

Lia Coryell at the worlds in Dubai.

The USA’s Lia Coryell took gold in the W1 women’s individual event at the 2022 World Archery Para Championships and then immediately announced her retirement from the sport – at the end of this season.

At her fourth successive world championship, Coryell beat Turkey’s Nil Misir, 130-124, to the individual world title after pulling away in the fourth end. But she didn’t realise she had secured gold until after lengthy discussions with her spotter and coach.

“I still thought I had three more arrows to shoot, I was like, ‘yeah, you're messing with me’,” said Coryell, who, after realising, rubbed her hands together in happiness.

In her previous three appearances at this level, in 2015, 2017 and 2019, Coryell had only ever reached the quarterfinals. Her victory today meant more to her than the metal around her neck.

“I was a kid that grew up without anything,” she explained. “This is for all those little kids that don't get picked for the kickball [soccer] team, that don’t get to go on the field trips because they don’t have any money.”

“This is for them, because that was me. If I can do it, anybody can. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about me. I’m only temporary. It’s about making these kids know ‘you can do it’. If you think you can. You can. You’ll find a way. It’ll be worth it,” she continued.

“There’s a saying: ‘a wolf that’s on top of the hill is never as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill’. I was that wolf and now I’m there.”

For Coryell, reaching the pinnacle has even more significance. This will be her last year on the circuit.

“I’m tired and my disease has progressed to a point that I’m retiring at the end of the season,” said the 57-year-old who has progressive multiple sclerosis. “It's been a long, long year, couple of years. The fact that I’m even here is just astounding. I mean, I’m just blown away – all that hard work is worth it.”

“The girls that I shot with are very, very good athletes and they will continue on. They will pick it up, will go on and will absolutely represent with pride and humbleness.”

Lia’s win was one of five W1 medals available during today’s finals session in Dubai.

The remaining four golds were split between Turkey and the Russian Archery Federation, with the Turkish W1 men’s doubles team of Yigit Caner Aydin and Nihat Turkmenoglu defeating the Russian Archery Federation in their gold encounter (137-134) and the winning pairing facing each other two hours later, in the all-Turkish W1 men’s individual final, which was won by Aydin, 136-126.

“Last year I missed the Paralympic Games and I promised myself last year I would win [world championship gold],” said Aydin. “I kept my promise to myself and I’m so, so happy. This is the best day of my life.”

Aleksei Leonov and Elena Krutova took the W1 mixed team gold for the Russian Archery Federation, defeating Italy (137-127) and Krutova took her second gold of the day, in the W1 women’s doubles with teammate Anna Ilina, as they saw off Turkey, 119-99.

“We feel we fulfilled our obligations,” said Krutova after her W1 women’s doubles win. “This win is very important for me, it’s my first win and it’s an historical win.”

Between the morning session and the televised finals, the conclusion of the visually impaired competition played out in the finals arena.

Belgium’s Ruben Vanhollebeke won his second successive visually impaired world title in impressive fashion.

These World Archery Para Championships conclude tomorrow with the recurve individual and doubles finals.

Photos courtesy Yayha Essa (Dubai Club for People of Determination).

Quotes courtesy Priyanka Sharma (organising committee) and Antoni Cichy.