Spanish pair qualifies first Olympic quota places at European Games

Spain celebrates winning Olympic places in Krakow.

Spain’s Elia Canales and Miguel Alvariño beat Ukraine in a three-set recurve mixed team final at the 2023 European Games to, unofficially, secure the first quota places for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Although the qualification process does not formally begin until the Hyundai World Archery Championships in August, the mixed team and individual champions at this week’s event in Krakow will be issued spots. Spain is now guaranteed tickets to the next Olympics in the men’s and women’s events.

“We knew we had the level to get the place but we were trying not to think about the results, just about our process,” said Canales, who delivered the final arrow of the match to secure victory – and on her birthday.

“I don’t have words to describe my feelings right now but I’m really happy. It was a great gift. It means a lot, not just for the Olympics, but being in a huge competition like this and doing our job and delivering our work – it’s everything.”

Seeded fourth at this tournament, the Spanish duo turned up their level for matchplay, churning out 38-point sets on demand.

Canales and Alvariño shot four of them in their semifinal upset over top qualifiers Germany, who were repeatedly just a point too short in critical moments. The final was more of the same – 37, 38, 38 – and Ukraine’s Anastasia Pavlova and Aleksii Hunbin didn’t stand a chance.

The early Olympic spots are a stark turnaround for Spanish fortunes.

Although the country earned a men’s place for Tokyo 2020 at the last European Games, a women’s spot wouldn’t be added until the penultimate opportunity at the European quota tournament – held just months before the Olympics themselves.

“They are working so hard,” said Spanish coach Elias Cuesta, assessing his squad.

“Not just Alvariño and Elia but the whole team, and it’s paying off. I know we can beat everyone, we can win every competition. But we never put focus on it. We just try to put the focus on… what can we do? What can we control?”

This medal is Miguel Alvariño’s fourth of the continental multisport event. He was the individual champion at the inaugural edition in 2015 and has two team silvers, one in that first year and the other yesterday, alongside today’s the new mixed team gold.

The first compound medals of these European Games were also awarded today in Krakow.

Estonian siblings Robin and Lisell Jaatma delivered two perfect arrows in a gold medal match shoot-off to defeat top-seeded Denmark and secure the pairs title – their first in four attempts at major events since the World University Games in 2019.

“We shot really good today… we always shoot good together,” said Lisell. “It means a lot to us.”

Competition continues with two days of early eliminations at the European Games.

Podiums: 2023 European Games

Full results on the Krakow 2023 European Games page.

Recurve mixed team

  1. Spain (Elia Canales and Miguel Alvariño)
  2. Ukraine (Anastasia Pavlova and Aleksii Hunbin)
  3. Germany (Michelle Kroppen and Florian Unruh)

Compound mixed team

  1. Estonia (Lisell Jaatma and Robin Jaatma)
  2. Denmark (Tanja Gellenthien and Mathias Fullerton)
  3. Italy (Elisa Roner and Marco Bruno)