Healey, Roner win European Games as Britain, Italy take Olympic spots

Elisa Roner celebrates winning the 2023 European Games in Krakow.

Eighteen-year-old British recurve archer Penny Healey and Italy’s breakout compound talent Elisa Roner took the women’s titles at the 2023 European Games today in Krakow, Poland.

Roner beat Healey’s teammate and world number one, Ella Gibson, in the final.

Healey, meanwhile, looked unstoppable on her march to the top of the podium and an Olympic quota place, dominating matchplay with timely perfect series and pivotal arrows whenever they were necessary.

“It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t smooth. There were a lot of nerves there. It’s never easy going up against a good opponent,” said the current world number two after her final against Spain’s Elia Canales – a 6-2 win.

“My nan unfortunately passed away before I came out here. So I said to my mum I’d get the quota spots for her, and I’d win for her, and I’ve done that. It means a lot.”

Penny raised her hands to the sky after winning, and again on the podium.

“I said I wanted to make my nan proud, and I have, and I’m really happy to do that.”

With two Olympic quotas available in Krakow, Healey secured one for Britain by making the final. She capitalised on the final berth, shooting a perfect second set against Canales’ 29 – and never releasing the pressure.

Spain had already secured a recurve women’s Olympic quota place by wining the mixed team event earlier this week – and wasn’t in the running for a second.

Anastasia Pavlova, who carried the Ukrainian flag during the opening ceremony in Poland, had her first chance to secure a ticket by beating Canales in their semifinal, which went the full five sets and into extra time. Both shot near-perfect 10s with their first tiebreak arrows – each landing slightly high and left – but Canales’ nine won the second.

With Canales ineligible, the Olympic quota would go to the winner of the bronze medal match.

Tied at 4-4 with Italy’s Chiara Rebagliati, top seed Pavlova opened the fifth set of the third-place clash with a seven. The pressure immediately lessened, Rebagliati did exactly what was necessary, ultimately finishing with a 10 to take the match, the medal and the quota place.

“I prepared a lot for this event,” she said afterwards. “I’ve thought a lot about this moment.”

“I’ve been shooting arrows in my mind. And I will always try to do my best,” she continued. “So yes, I’m really happy.”

No Olympic quotas on the line in the compound event – the discipline has applied to join those Games in 2028, having first appeared at this continental multisport event in 2019 – but plenty more to celebrate for Italy after another big result for 21-year-old Elisa Roner.

The reigning Indoor Archery World Series Champion, who made her first final four on the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya in April, beat four big names to take gold in Krakow.

First fell continental stalwart Mariya Shkolna (148-138); the next victim was Sunday’s mixed team winner Lisell Jaatma (144-142) – and then former world number one Tanja Gellenthien came up short in a tiebreak, 10-9.

It set up a title bout against world number one Ella Gibson – an opponent who, despite having a dominant breakout year in 2022, Roner has a winning record against over the past 18 months. (Three wins, two losses.)

Gibson was already one point down after nine arrows – then dropped six over the back shots, Roner only one.

“I’ve beaten Ella before,” said the Italian after securing gold, 145-139. “I know that if I am focused just on me, on my shooting and what I have to do to shoot 10s, then 10s will come.”

Roner adds the individual gold – her first major outdoor crown – to the bronze medal she won here with Marco Bruno in the compound mixed team event, which finished on Sunday.

“Before coming here was my dad’s birthday. And he told me not to come back home without a medal,” said Elisa. “I took two medals, so he’s very happy and my family also – and me, too!”

Everyone back home was intently following today’s results.

“After the semifinals, I came back and looked at my phone, the messages from my family. Then I put my phone down and said okay, I still have a match,” Roner continued. “The work is not over.”

It wasn’t then. It is now – for the women in Krakow, at least.

Two titles remain to be won, in the short end of the compound and recurve men’s competitions. Two last quota places for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are also up for grabs.

Podiums: 2023 European Games

Full results on the Krakow 2023 European Games page.

Recurve women

  1. Penny Healey, Great Britain (Olympic quota)
  2. Elia Canales, Spain*
  3. Chiara Rebagliati, Italy (Olympic quota)

*Olympic quota already secured in mixed team event.

Compound women

  1. Elisa Roner, Italy
  2. Ella Gibson, Great Britain
  3. Hazal Burun, Türkiye