Wu Chunyan takes three golds during Pilsen para recurve finals 

Wu Chunyan, World Archery Para Championships Pilsen 2023

China’s Wu Chunyan and reigning Paralympic Champion Kevin Mather from the USA clinched individual gold medals on Sunday as the 2023 World Archery Championships concluded with recurve finals in Pilsen. (China and Turkey won the doubles events.)

Chunyan had already four world titles before competition kicked off in the Czech Republic – two of them individual – and one clean sweep of three golds on her resume. She added a further three, winning all of the finals in which she appeared this weekend.

“After Tokyo 2020, I didn’t even start my training,” she explained. “To make such a result after the [three-year] break and so short training – it’s beyond my imagination.”

The 33-year-old aced her international comeback after skipping the previous championship in Dubai. (China didn’t compete there.)

It’s been nearly a decade since her debut on the world scene – when she also won all three gold medals in Germany at the championships in Donaueschingen in 2015.

“Eight years passed since those championships, I’m very excited,” she said. “I wanted to thank my team members for their support and everything they did for me.”

The individual gold medal match went into the fifth set as Chunyan and Poland’s Milena Olszewska sat tied at 4-4. The Chinese archer delivered three strong arrows – 28 points to her opponent’s 25 – for a third individual World Archery Para Champion title after Donaueschingen in 2015 and Den Bosch in 2019.

She had already won the women’s doubles and mixed team finals earlier in the day.

Chunyan and Wu Yang fought hard after trailing Italy by a set in the women’s doubles final – eventually forcing a shoot-off. Vincenza Petrilli twice had a potentially winning arrow in her hand, but shot a seven in the fifth set and a six in the tie-break.

Italy had a chance for revenge in the mixed team gold medal match, but Chunyan again prevailed, this time paired with Zhao Lixue.

“Actually, we were really eager inside to get this medal,” said Zhao, as the pair celebrated their first gold. “We did it all together, we trust each other.”

Kevin Mather, World Archery Para Championships Pilsen 2023

The recurve men’s title went to the reigning Paralympic Champion, who had qualified just 13th at this week’s event but battled through matchplay to top the podium once again.

“It feels pretty amazing right now,” Mather said. “I’m just blown away.”

The US para archer ended 34th qualifier Ruslan Tsymbaliuk’s beautiful run in Pilsen.

After a winning start to the final, the Ukrainian lost his momentum and Mather overcame some unusual problems – that only a wheelchair archer might know of – to win the second major event of his career. 

“In the first set, my brake wasn’t locked. When I shot, I kind of wheeled around a bit. I was moving more than normal,” he explained.

When his position was steady, he brought his best performance to the Republic Square in Pilsen, taking three consecutive sets to win, 6-2. 

“I don’t try to think what happened or to solve the problem,” he said afterwards. “I’m right back to what was the way to shoot an arrow. And that was good enough today.”

Türkiye’s Yavuz Papağan and Sadik Savas won the men’s doubles competition preventing a Chinese clean sweep of this afternoon’s team events.

“It’s hard to describe that feeling with words,” Savas said. “This is my first world champion title, and I’m proud of myself and my teammates.”

Competition in Pilsen concluded with recurve finals on Sunday afternoon.  

Recurve finals: Pilsen 2023