Triple gold for Vincenza Petrilli as world paras conclude in Dubai

Vincenza Petrilli shoots during the mixed doubles final in Dubai.

Italian recurver Vincenza Petrilli had a perfect ending on the final day of her first world para championships on Sunday, taking titles in the mixed doubles, women’s doubles and women’s individual events in Dubai.

“I'm so happy and it was not expected,” said Petrilli after her third gold. “My heart was running but I was able to keep calm and put the focus on the process.”

Petrilli, who won silver in the recurve women’s events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, started her golden day with teammate Stefano Travisani in the mixed doubles competition, overcoming Thailand, 6-2, in the final. Travisani won silver in the mixed team event in Tokyo, but with Elisabetta Mijno, who did not compete in Dubai.

“It’s a big emotion, everything is good,” said Petrilli after that opening gold. It only got better.

Less than an hour later, in the recurve women’s doubles final, Petrilli and Veronica Floreno took the top spot on the podium again, with the Italians defeating the Russian Archery Federation, 5-3.

Again, Petrilli could not quite understand what she had achieved.

“It has been very emotional for me and I still don't believe that it happened – I really cannot already believe that it's happened again,” she said.

“Going home with two gold medals is fantastic, marvellous. I’m still feeling adrenaline in my veins. I have a big feeling today. It's a very nice day for me.”

That big feeling then carried her through to her triple crown, with another gold claimed just over an hour later in the recurve women’s individual final where she took on Indian newcomer, Pooja, who was shooting for her country’s first-ever world title in para competition.

After a good start from Pooja, which saw her jump to a 3-1 lead, Petrilli took each of the last three sets, taking advantage of some wayward sevens from her opponent with calm, consistent shooting, to win the final in five sets, 7-3, and complete her trio of gold medals.

“In Tokyo, I won the silver medal but it was not enough for me, I got angry,” said Petrilli. “One by one [here in Dubai] I got [the golds]. This is a day that will  remain in my mind and heart forever.”

If Petrilli’s haul was the most impressive, the very last match at these championships might have been the tensest.

The medallists from the recent Paralympics competing in Dubai – Kevin Mather (gold) and Harvinder Singh (bronze) – went out early in the eliminations, but 15th seed Tomohiro Ueyama delivered Japan’s only medal in Dubai after a tiebreak and with it, became the nation’s first man to be crowned World Archery Para Champion.

“I can’t express it in words, I’m just so happy,” he said, days after lauding the legacy last year’s home Paralympics had left. “I didn’t think about any number while shooting. I just tried to follow the process and shot like a normal day. This is my best ever result.”

He took the title after beating the number one seed and world number three, Guillaume Toucoullet of France in a back-and-forth affair. 

Wheelchair-user Ueyama had started strongly with two impressive sets of 29 points, taking a 4-0 lead, but France’s Toucoullet, who shoots with a mouth tab – a small piece of material attached to the string that he bites down on to draw back the bow – stormed back to draw even as the Japanese challenger seemed to lose momentum, forcing the shoot-off.

Tocoullet, a talented former rower, shot an eight to the right with his last arrow of the championships, leaving plenty of room for Ueyama to drop a nine and take an historic podium.

Mongolia won their first-ever medal at the World Archery Para Championships, taking bronze after a three-set win over India in the recurve women’s doubles event.

Margarita Sidorenko and Kirill Smirnov, who were representing the Russian Archery Federation and who took gold in the mixed event in Tokyo, were knocked out in the first round of eliminations by Japan, who then lost their bronze medal match to Poland. The Polish team featured Milena Olszewska, who added a second bronze of the day by defeating Britain’s Hazel Chaisty (6-4) for third in the recurve women’s event.

The tightest final on the last day of action in Dubai ensured nerves across the arena – when the recurve men’s doubles title went down to the final four arrows, and then a measure, between Iran and Great Britain.

Tied after regulation, both teams opened with nines and followed with sevens.

A nervous wait followed as the judges measured – before Iran’s Rahimi Gholamreza and Asghar Zareeinejad’s nine was measured a hair closer to the centre of the target.

“We have had shoot-offs many times and have practised like this in many difficult situations,” said Gholamreza. “We have done it before, so we can better in the same situations and our coach is very influential. We could get calm because of his talking and actions.”

The end of the recurve finals brought competition at these World Archery Para Championships to a close.

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

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