Brazil’s Mendes crowned first visually impaired champion of the Americas

Gustavo Mendes shoots in the visually impaired 1 final in Santiago.

Brazilian archer Gustavo Mendes Araujo won the first-ever visually impaired title at the 2022 Pan American Championships today in Santiago, Chile.

“I fought hard to be here at this moment. It was a long road and I persevered for six years to get to this day,” he said. “I’m so grateful to come to my first international championship and win.”

A relatively new category of para archery, the medal was added for this event in Santiago. Four athletes from three countries – Mexico and Chile, alongside Brazil – participated.

Gustavo qualified first and won both his matches in straight sets to take gold.

“We are showing the power that visually impaired people have to overcome any obstacle,” he said. “Since I arrived, I just enjoyed every moment and put into practice what I trained over the last six years.”

Visually impaired athletes use frames, called tactile sights, to help them aim at the target – and are assisted by spotters, who call each arrow’s landing position from behind the line.

Today’s silver medallist, Misael Ruiz, had a special guest spotter for his matches.

London 2012 Olympic silver medallist and Mexican teammate Aida Roman visited the para competition field after training in the morning and was quickly promoted from spectator to the coaching box.

“We had dinner last night and made an appointment for me to come and support,” she said. “I arrived and volunteered to help. I learned so much. It’s really impressive.”

These championships combine competition for able-bodied and para athletes.

Events for para athletes conclude tomorrow with the individual finals in the morning, which will feature Chile’s homegrown star – Paralympic silver medallist Mariana Zuniga.

The able-bodied competitions continue with team finals on Saturday afternoon, followed by compound mixed team and individual finals on Sunday morning, before the recurves conclude proceedings in the afternoon.