US para archers take four of six individual titles in Santiago
Jason Tabansky took gold in the W1 men’s category in the most dramatic fashion to cap a successful day for American archers as the para archery medals were handed out at the Pan American Championships in Santiago.
Tabansky produced four consecutive maximums to surge back and take gold against Brazil’s Helcio Luiz Jaime Gomes Perilo, having trailed by seven going into the final end.
The American’s perfect 30 left Perilo needing eight to tie, but the Brazilian shot seven to hand Tabansky the continental title, 124-123, as the sun beat down in Chile.
“It feels fantastic,” said Tabansky. “If I could tell you what I was thinking I would be lying because I just went blank.”
“For the first time, everything my coaches have said about letting your mind go blank, it happened and I just took it arrow by arrow.”
“I wasn’t worried about what he was shooting, I just knew what I needed to do and thank God it all came together.”
“My body was taking every last ounce of strength to get acclimatised, but everything came together and it just so happened to be on the very last day, on the very last end.”
There was also a dramatic end to the recurve women’s final, as Colombian Maria Monica Daza Guzman clinched gold in a shoot-off with Mexico’s Cathia Valdez.
Daza Guzman made a strong start as she took a 2-0 lead but trailed 5-3 heading into the final set after Valdez had fought back to win the third and fourth.
But the Colombian forced a decider after Valdez failed to hit more than a seven with her final arrow, and Guzman held her nerve to edge the decider 7-5.
Elsewhere, Tabansky was not the only American archer to taste success as compatriots Lisa Coryell, Douglas Godfrey and Kevin Mather also took gold.
Coryell looked in total control as she romped to the W1 women’s title against Argentina’s Albina Yamila Torres, taking a 121-74 victory with just four shots dipping under eight.
Godfrey earned gold in compound men’s with a 139-135 victory over Brazilian Diogo De Souza.
A tight battle saw the pair separated by no more than two points throughout the first four ends, with the archers tied after two, before Godfrey pulled ahead on the final end to eventually take gold by four.
“It’s phenomenal,” said Godfrey. “To be able to come to this level and perform in a sport I love is excellent.”
“I didn’t focus on what the score was, I didn’t realise we were tied [after two ends], I just focused on each arrow individually.”
Godfrey does not currently hold a world ranking but defied the odds against world number 84 De Souza to clinch Pan American gold and is hoping the only way is up ahead of next season.
“I am just going to keep trying to improve and get my scores higher. More tens in the middle of the target is the ultimate goal.”
Mather completed a superb quartet of golds for USA with victory in the recurve men’s final against Mexico’s Samuel Molina.
The American powered into a 4-0 lead after the first two sets, with Molina scoring just 13 in the second after being timed out on one of his shots, but the Mexican fought back to take the third set 29-27 to halve the deficit.
But Mather finished the job in the fourth, sealing the win with a maximum on his final arrow to take the final 6-2 and secure Pan American gold.
“It feels really incredible,” said Mather. “This has been an insanely long season for the para archers with the world championships in February and now we’re here in November. It’s been a remarkable year and I’m happy to take home the win.”
“It got hot, I’ve been put in some pressure situations even though I haven’t been an archer for very long.”
“I work with a mental training group, and it’s proven successful. My last arrow there, one of the signs got blown over, but all I thought to myself was this arrow is going in the ten either way.”
There was no fairy tale for home favourite Mariana Zuniga, who was beaten 145-134 by Brazil’s Jane Karla Gogel in the compound women’s final.
The Brazilian was imperious throughout to score an impressive victory despite the strong home support for Zuniga, as she led from start to finish to take gold.
Gogel opened up a three-point lead after the first end and slowly extended that by one in the second end before stretching out to an eventual 14-point lead after five ends to comfortably take the title.
Events for para athletes have thus concluded in Santiago. 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.