Stormy start shifts to record-setting qualifying at European Games

Perfect arrows in Krakow.

A 45-minute storm delay to the start of the morning qualification session at the 2023 European Games was soon forgotten when Ella Gibson set a new compound women’s world record of 715 points, before Mike Schloesser matched the compound men’s all-time best in the afternoon.

Olympic Champion Mete Gazoz of Türkiye and Ukraine‘s flagbearer at this event, Anastasia Pavlova, topped the recurve leaderboards.

World number one Schloesser was on pace to inch the compound men’s world best closer to the perfect score of 720 points, having dropped just one point with one arrow left to shoot. But the 29-year-old couldn’t corral his 72nd arrow of the qualifying round – and it landed in the nine.

“I knew I was on for it,” said Schloesser, who ultimately equalled Braden Gellenthien’s 718-point world record for the second time in his career in international competition.

“I’ve been in this situation before, of course. I was so nervous, just shaking and trying to make a good shot. It felt good, but I was like shaking so much I couldn’t hold it in the middle like I wanted.”

The score is a Games record, 10 points up on the top-seeded result from four years ago when the compound bow made its debut at this multisport event in Minsk.

Mike qualified second at the 2019 European Games – but went on to win.

Schloesser needed today’s record score to stay atop the stacked compound men’s field competing in Krakow’s Plaszowianka Archery Park.

Danish 20-year-old Mathias Fullerton was tied with Mister Perfect at the halfway point, both having dropped just a point through the first 36 arrows, and finished the 72-arrow 50-metre qualifying round with a career-best 717 points. 

France’s Nicolas Girard came in only a point back on Fullerton.

Thirteen of the 16 compound men on the field posted 700-plus points – as did seven of the 15 compound women.

The standard was indicative of the near-perfect environment on the field. Despite the early-morning tempest, the air throughout the remainder of the day was, though muggy, very still.

“The record seemed like it was going to go this year,” said Gibson after taking advantage of the excellent conditions to shoot her world-best 715 round, four more than second qualifier Tanja Gellenthien. “It was me because it was my day.”

“It means so much to me. I’ve been so close so many times in the last year. It‘s been on my mind and I’ve been trying for a while. It‘s been frustrating.”

Third seed Lisell Jaatma shot an Estonian national record with 708 points.

The record watch on the compound lines overshadowed a season-best score from Turkish Olympic Champion Mete Gazoz, who posted his first 690-plus of 2023 with 692.

Germany’s Florian Unruh was six back on 686 in second, while Britain’s Monty Orton and France’s Baptiste Addis followed, both shooting 683.

(It’s the same total Orton posted during qualification in Medellin last week – and the highest ever shot by a British recurve man in international competition.)

Two days after leading the Ukrainian delegation at the opening ceremony of these European Games, Anastasia Pavlova led the recurve women over qualifying – clinching the top seed on 10s, although tying with world number one Penny Healey on a pure points score of 681.

“It’s my best result,” said Pavlova. “I was very nervous but I’m happy. I hope it leads to a good result in the competition.”

The score breaks Healey’s own national record in Britain by one point.

“I’m shaking from nerves and excitement right now,” she said.

The 18-year-old, who won the Hyundai Archery World Cup season opener in Antalya, skipped this month’s stage in Medellin to nurse a shoulder injury ahead of this event – and the World Archery Youth Championships in Limerick in a couple of weeks.

There were records set over qualifying in all four of the team events being contested in Krakow, too.

Tanja Gellenthien (712) and Mathias Fullerton (717) combined for 1429 points, giving the top seed in the compound mixed team competition to Denmark, and beating the world record (set by a Korean pairing back in 2021) by five.

Germany upped its own European record in the recurve mixed team event – from 1362 to 1366.

(Both records were set by the duo of Michelle Kroppen and Florian Unruh.)

Germany also topped recurve women’s team qualifying, while the Netherlands led the recurve men’s team leaderboard. Both squads shot new European Games bests.

In total during the two qualification rounds today in Krakow, two senior world records, three European records and seven event records were set.

Competition at the 2023 European Games continues with team eliminations and finals on Saturday.

Top seeds: 2023 European Games

*Record shared with Penny Healey (Great Britain).

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