China reaps Paralympic quotas, tops medal table at para world championships

Chen Minyi won W1 women’s individual bronze in Pilsen.

China dominated the medal table at the World Archery Para Championships 2023 held on 17-23 July 2023 in Pilsen, Czech Republic, collecting seven of the 17 gold medals available, for a total of 11 podium finishes.

Italy ranked second with eight podiums – two gold and six silvers – and Türkiye third with five medals – two gold, two silvers and one bronze.

The 300-odd para archers representing 55 countries put in some exceptional performances, demonstrating outstanding skills in the seventeen events contested across four classifications – recurve, compound, W1 and visually impaired.

The competition week was marked by a flurry of world records over the two qualifying days, before common interest turned to the main opportunity given to para archers to obtain the first Paralympic quotas for Paris 2024, as 78 of the 140 total places were allocated in Pilsen.

The grande dame of these championships was four-time Paralympic medallist Wu Chunyan. The 33-year-old archer from China completed a hat-trick of titles in the recurve division, winning the individual, women’s doubles and mixed doubles events.

Local favourite David Drahoninsky also collected three medals in the W1 division – mixed team gold alongside Tereza Brandtlova, men’s doubles bronze with Karel Davidek as well as individuel bronze – plenty to get the stands buzzing.

But it was Sheetal Devi the great revelation in Pilsen. First and only woman without arms competing at this level, and one of a record three armless archers taking the field, the 16-year-old from India made a stunning debut, losing only in the compound women’s gold medal match.

Key takeaways

Paralympic qualification. The qualification period for Paris 2024 officially started with the first – and more than half – of the quota places awarded during the 2023 World Archery Para Championships, as the event acted as the primary qualifier. After nine countries qualified spots on Wednesday by the teams making the final fours in each of the three competition categories (recurve, compound and W1), a second set of quotas was distributed on Thursday making twenty-five nations with at least one athlete qualified for the upcoming Paralympics. As of the end of competition in Pilsen, 84 quota places (the 78 available plus six for host France) have been assigned. The qualifying period will continue with three dedicated continental qualification tournaments in Asia, Europe and the Americas, as well as a combined tournament for Africa and Oceania.

China’s dominance. China was the big winner in the race for Paralympic quota places, securing 11 tickets to Paris, just one short of a full slate. Twelve Chinese athletes contributed to the nation finishing top of the medal table with 11 podium finishes, including seven world titles. Among them, Wu Chunyan swept three golds, Wu Yang and Chen Minyi had one gold and one bronze each, while Zhao Lixue left the Czech Republic with one gold and one silver. The medal haul followed six world records by Chinese archers, out of the 10 that were set at the start of the competition, during day one and day two of qualifying. 

Armless powerhouse. For the first time in history, three armless archers shot at one competition, and they all made it to the finals arena. Among them the first and only female archer so far, Sheetal Devi won compound women’s silver. The 2022 Para World Champion Matt Stutzman, known as The Armless Archer, collected his fourth world medal in as many world championship appearances. With US teammate Kevin Polish, he posted a new compound men’s doubles team match world record in quarterfinals, four points off perfect with 156 points, before taking bronze. In the individual event, Stutzman had his first loss in 13 years to another armless archer Piotr Van Montagu, who was eventually himself defeated in the bronze medal match.

Sensational Indian debutant. After receiving advice from famous Stutzman during official practice, the 16-year-old para archer Devi, who was also born without arms, finished fourth in the 72-arrow 50-metre qualifying round with 689 points – four more than her mentor! The Indian teenage girl then defeated her teammate (and top seed) Sarita in the compound women’s semifinal to secure an historic finals berth, to finally collect compound women’s individual world silver with a final loss to Türkiye’s Öznur Cüre.

W1 mixed team gold podium in Pilsen.

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; 1 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)

Champions: 2023 World Archery Para Championships

See full results online.

These are the new para world champions:

  • Recurve men: Kevin Mather, USA
  • Recurve women: Wu Chunyan, China
  • Compound men: Matteo Bonacina, Italy
  • Compound women: Öznur Cüre, Türkiye
  • W1 men: Christopher Davis, Australia
  • W1 women: Zhang Lu, China
  • Visually impaired 1: Matteo Panariello, Italy
  • Visually impaired 2/3*: Steve Prowse, Great Britain 
  • Recurve men open doubles: Türkiye
  • Recurve women open doubles: China
  • Recurve open mixed team: China
  • Compound men open doubles: China
  • Compound women open doubles: Great Britain
  • Compound open mixed team: India
  • W1 men doubles: China
  • W1 women doubles: China
  • W1 mixed team: Czech Republic

Medal table: 2023 World Archery Para Championships

Countries with at least one gold medal listed.

1. CHN flag China: 10 (7 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze)
2. ITA flag Italy: 11 (2 gold, 6 silver)
3. TUR flag Türkiye: 10 (2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze)
4. GBR flag Great Britain: 3 (2 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
5. AUS flag Australia: 3 (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
5. IND flag India: 2 (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
7. CZE flag Czech Republic: 2 (1 gold, 3 bronze)
8. USA flag USA: 1 (1 gold, 1 bronze)

Athletes representing 13 countries collected the 51 medals across 17 events awarded at the 14th World Archery Para Championships. A total of 295 archers from 55 countries competed in the event held in Pilsen, Czech Republic on 17-23 July 2023.