Wind struggles in qualifying as European Grand Prix opens in Umag

Qualification at the European Grand Prix in Umag.

Reigning Olympic Champion Mete Gazoz (658), Elia Canales (649), Shamai Yamrom (707) and Sarah Prieels (686) topped qualifying at the second European Grand Prix of 2023, which began yesterday in Umag, Croatia.

Conditions were incredibly difficult, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The wind was strong – and unpredictable.

“It had more of an impact on you than your arrows,” said Prieels, whose first half of 351 points was 16 higher than the second 36 arrows. “When a shot was aimed well, it would land in the middle. I just didn’t manage to do it consistently.”

She wasn’t alone.

Only four of the 60-strong compound field in Umag managed a better second 36 arrows than the first.

And the highest-placed archer who maintained level throughout the whole 50-metre round, Türkiye’s former European Champion Yakup Yildiz, shot a pair of 351 halves to qualify fifth. He’s a renowned index-finger trigger shooter – a concerted advantage in such conditions.

He was still five points down on top seed Yamrom, though. The 18-year-old Israeli is beginning to make a name for himself, having finished runner-up at the first Grand Prix of the year in Lilleshall – and by making the last 16 at the second stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup earlier this month in Shanghai.

With world ranking points on the line, nearly 200 archers are competing in this week’s event in Croatia.

“We’re missing a few big names from Europe in the compound categories,” said Prieels. “But this Grand Prix is important in preparation for the upcoming events. I love competing and being on a field every weekend keeps us fit to handle the pressure in bigger events.”

Many archers will travel to Medellin in two weeks for the third stop of the international tour – before returning to Poland for the European Games.

Top seeds: Umag 2023