Healey bags first win as Olaru makes history for Moldova in Antalya
Britain’s Penny Healey and Moldova’s Dan Olaru soared to a pair of stunning gold medals in the recurve finals at the opening stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya, Türkiye.
Healey capped off a sensational week with her first-ever stage win at just 18 years of age, while Olaru’s five-set win over Olympic medallist Jean-Charles Valladont in the recurve men’s final brought a historical first win both individually – and for his country.
Healey dominated her final against Germany’s Elina Idensen, shooting three 27s to win in straight sets.
The teenager follows in the footsteps of British teammate Bryony Pitman, who won gold at this same event at the start of last season, and is assured of a place at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Mexico in September.
“It feels amazing, after that last arrow I was like, ‘did it do it, or not?’ but I can’t believe it’s happened. It feels unreal,” said Healey, who spoke before the final about being confident ahead of her second trip to the arena. “I was so nervous. My legs were shaking and so were my arms but having [coach] Nicky Hunt in the box singing and dancing with me helped a lot.”
Pink-haired Healey warmed up for this event with a European Grand Prix gold in Lilleshall two weeks ago, where she also beat Idensen in the final.
After an edgier tussle with China’s An Qixuan in the semifinals, the Brit looked unfazed in the title match.
Healey was helped by a nervous seven from her German opponent in the opening set, which she won 27-25.
Despite falling behind by a point after two arrows in the second, 18-17, the 18-year-old once again had an opportunity when Idensen shot an eight. Penny landed a perfect 10 to move 4-0 ahead.
Healey then finished things in style with, opening the third with a solid 10, nine – before delivering exactly the arrow she needed, an eight, to seal her first individual victory on the international outdoor circuit.
In the past 18 months, the Brit has gone from being a complete unknown to Indoor Archery World Series Champion (February 2022), a Hyundai Archery World Cup stage winner and, as of tomorrow, the new world number one.
It marks Qixuan’s first individual medal on the circuit since 2018 at her first international competition in four years.
Olaru’s win in the recurve men’s final was hard fought. Although he had won the only previous meeting with Valladont, which came at the 2018 European Championships, the Frenchman is a previous winner in Antalya and has pedigree having accrued countless podiums over a long career on the international stage.
But it was the Moldovan who produced the dream start, producing three 10s in the first set to take the early lead.
Valladont drew level in the second before Olaru re-established the lead with a pair of 10s in the third. The pair tied on 29 in a high-quality fourth, leaving the score at 5-3 and Olaru needing a tie from the last set of regulation to take victory. The chance appeared to have slipped away when the Frenchman opened with two 10s – but JC could only must an eight with his final arrow, opening the door for Olaru.
The Moldovan 26-year-old hit the 10 he needed to win gold.
“I am the first Moldovan to qualify for the World Cup Final and I am very happy to do that,” said the winner. “It helped when Jean-Charles shot the eight, but I needed the 10 – and I did it.”
The recurve finals session closed competition in Antalya.