Olszewska serves two thrillers to grab Paris 2024 quota and reach final

Milena Olszewska, World Archery Para Championships Pilsen 2023

The second cache of quota spots for the Paris 2024 Paralympics was distributed on Thursday in Pilsen during the individual elimination phase at the 2023 World Archery Para Championships – as well as matchplay deciding which athletes would contest the individual trophies.

(Leftover spots were available in Friday morning’s secondary tournament – after that, 25 countries had tickets to the Games.)

Among those to book a spot in this weekend’s finals line-up? Paralympic Champion Kevin Mather, Indian armless archer Sheetal Devi, former W1 world champ Bahattin Hekimoglu – and one Milena Olszewska of Poland.

Olszewska fought for it, winning two thrilling duels in tiebreaks to earn a spot in the recurve women’s final.

The Paralympic bronze medallist from Rio 2016 initially defeated Italy’s Veronica Floreno to secure the quota for Paris and advance to the quarterfinal. Her semifinal clash against Wu Yang from China ended in another shoot-off, and Olszewska once again shot closer to the centre under tremendous pressure. 

“This whole day is just about pure happiness,” she said.

“I didn't know how many girls would get the quota, so I tried to shoot my best and not count it. I’m very happy that I will be able to participate in another Paralympics,” Olszewska continued. The international veteran was carefully monitoring her heartrate during competition – it peaked at 140 beats per minute.

The Polish archer will face two-time World Archery Para Champion Wu Chunyan in the final.

Christopher Davis, World Archery Para Championships 2023

Australia’s Christopher Davis had two big wins, too. (But they both came at the same time.) He secured he quota by beating local hero – and reigning Paralympic Champion – David Drahoninsky, 140-138, to make the W1 men’s gold medal match.

“It’s a very surreal feeling at the moment,” he said on obtaining the quota for Paris 2024. “I didn’t know what my opponent shot, so I was just waiting to see the numbers to go off.”

In the compound men’s competition, Nathan MacQueen from Great Britain will shoot against Italy’s Matteo Bonacina for gold.

MacQueen dropped top seed Ai Xinliang in the quarterfinals to spring his opportunity at the trophy.

His wasn’t the only winning streak. Ukraine’s Ruslan Tsymbaliuk won three five-set matches, then beat Poland’s Lukasz Ciszek, to secure his first international podium in the recurve men’s event. Having also won a quota place, Tsymbaliuk was emotional.

“I'm so happy! It's the first time I won the spot for the Paralympics,” Ruslan exclaimed. “I didn’t expect it at all!”

“Now I have a lot more confidence, and I will try to do my best,” he said.

Tsymbaliuk will meet Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Champion Kevin Mather, who qualified in just 13th, in the final.

“It feels amazing. That was the biggest job we came here to do. And to get that off my bag feels really good,” said the US athlete of earning the chance to defend his title in Paris. He has an opportunity to unite the world and Paralympic titles.

Ruslan Tsymbaliuk, World Archery Para Championships 2023

Sensational Indian debutant Sheetal Devi is still in the running in Pilsen.

The 16-year-old armless archer defeated her teammate (and top seed) Sarita in the compound women’s semifinal to secure an historic finals berth.

“It’s a special feeling. These are my first World Archery Para Championships and I will already shoot for gold,” Devi said. Her final is against Oznur Cure. The Turkish archer beat Brazilian world record holder Jane Karla Gogel in a semifinal shoot-off.

Asia Pellizzari from Italy will stand a chance to earn her first gold, too. The 21-year-old Italian competing in W1 went past local hero Tereza Brandtlova and China’s Chen Minyi (who won a Paralympic quota by making the medal matches) to secure a spot in the final. 

She was beyond words, crying after her last arrow.

“It's the first time I will shoot in the world championship finals,” said Pelizzari. ”It’s a special emotion. It's difficult to explain that feeling.”

Her final opponent will be China’s Zhang Lu.

Nine quota places for the Paralympics were rolled over to Friday morning’s secondary tournament – with ties lower down the final ranking needing to be broken – three in the compound men’s event, four for recurve women and two for recurve men. As of the end of competition in Pilsen, 83 quota places (the 78 available plus five for host France) have been assigned.

Competition continues in Pilsen with finals weekend at the World Archery Para Championships.

Quota tracker: 2024 Paralympics

Correct as of the end of the competition day at the world para championships on 21 July 2023.

  • AUS flag Australia: 3 (1 compound man, 1 woman; 1 W1 man)
  • BEL flag Belgium: 1 (1 compound man)
  • BRA flag Brazil: 2 (1 compound man, 1 woman)
  • CHN flag China: 11 (2 recurve men, 2 women; 2 compound men, 2 women; 1 W1 man, 2 women)
  • CRC flag Costa Rica: 1 (1 compound man)
  • CZE flag Czech Republic: 3 (1 W1 man, 2 women) 
  • FRA flag France: 6 (1 recurve man, 1 woman; 2 compound men, 1 woman; 1 W1 man)
  • GBR flag Great Britain: 3 (1 compound man, 2 women)
  • IND flag India: 6 (1 recurve man, 1 woman; 2 compound men, 2 women)
  • INA flag Indonesia: 3 (2 recurve men; 1 compound man)
  • IRI flag Iran: 6 (1 recurve man, 1 woman; 2 compound men, 2 women)
  • IRQ flag Iraq: 2 (1 compound man, 1 woman)
  • ITA flag Italy: 6 (1 recurve man, 2 woman; 1 compound man; 1 W1 man, 1 woman)
  • JPN flag Japan: 2 (1 recurve man, 1 woman)
  • KOR flag Korea: 4 (1 recurve man; 1 compound woman; 1 W1 man, 1 woman)
  • MEX flag Mexico: 1 (1 recurve man)
  • POL flag Poland: 2 (1 recurve man, 1 woman)
  • SGP flag Singapore: 1 (1 compound woman)
  • SVK flag Slovakia: 2 (1 recurve man; compound man)
  • SLO flag Slovenia: 1 (1 recurve woman)
  • ESP flag Spain: 1 (1 compound man)
  • THA flag Thailand: 2 (1 recurve man, 1 woman)
  • TUR flag Türkiye: 7 (2 recurve men, 2 women2 compound women1 W1 man)
  • UKR flag Ukraine: 2 (1 recurve man; 1 compound man)
  • USA flag USA: 3 (1 recurve man; 2 compound men)