Steve Wijler perfect in GT Open final, takes second indoor win in a row

Steve Wijler

Visiting US duo Paige Pearce and James Lutz, and reigning World Archery Champion Marie Horackova, took individual wins at the GT Open in Strassen as Steve Wijler collected his second consecutive victory to open the 2024 Indoor Archery World Series.

The Dutchman, who also won in Lausanne last month, shot three perfect sets to beat Great Britain’s Tom Hall in the gold medal match.

“It’s been a really good weekend for me and I’m really happy to get away with the gold,” said Wijler, who had shot the joint-top recurve men’s score in qualifying with 596 points – tied with Brady Ellison – but then suffered a scare in the last eight.

He needed a closing 30 to force 10th qualifier Niv Frenkel to a tiebreak in the quarterfinal, shot a 10 to win it, then didn’t drop another point.

Wijler shot 12 clean arrows to win his semifinal against compatriot Willem Bakker – before another nine to beat Hall to gold.

“How do I keep this focused? For me, it’s just shooting every single shot as best as I can,” he continued. “I’ve practised it a lot at home. I’m really stoked.”

Wijler won the Indoor Archery World Series Finals in 2023 and in 2019.

Paige Pearce

After three of the four semifinalists in the compound men’s competition shot perfect 150s – just reigning outdoor circuit champion Mathias Fullerton dropping a single point in the phase – nines from both James Lutz and Stephan Hansen in the first end of the final saw the tension burst a little.

The pair, who were apparently sharing a hotel room at the tournament, were both clean through the second and third ends – before Hansen dropped another.

(The Dane had needed a better shoot-off 10 to pass Lausanne-winner Mike Schloesser in their perfect semi.)

Two down was too many. And Lutz capitalised.

“You’ve just got to focus on making a strong shot, and try not to let the nerves get to you too much,” he said.

Fellow US archer Paige Pearce beat world number one Ella Gibson to the compound women’s gold medal, 148-147. The pair were tied going into the last end, but Gibson dropped a point with her very last arrow, and Pearce drilled a 10 to take the title.

“You never know what to expect when you get out there and obviously Ella is an amazing competitor,” said Pearce. “I knew I had to hit that last arrow. I didn't know if it was to win or to tie, but I knew it had to be there.” 

Paige, who has recently been focusing on the domestic competition circuit in the USA, now holds a 3-1 win record over Ella in international competition.

Women's recurve podium GT Open 2023

At only her second international event since her surprise win at the Hyundai World Archery Championships in August, Marie Horackova brushed aside Slovakia’s Denisa Barankova, 7-1, despite claiming that she ‘wasn’t so experienced’ at indoor competition.

The 25-year-old has now finished top eight at four straight internationals.

(She had a fifth at the European Games prior to Berlin and a fourth at the European field championships in September.)

Barankova had won the event at the first leg in Lausanne.

The current world number two, Casey Kaufhold came third in Strassen after edging out Randi Degn of Denmark in a shoot-off.

In the youth events, Quinty Roeffen joined Dutch compatriot Wijler in collecting her second win of the season in a row after the season opener. This time, it was harder earned – as Roeffen was pushed all the way by yet another archer from the Netherlands. Fleur Van de Ven qualified one point behind Roeffen (585 to 584) and ran her five sets in the final.

Some 405 athletes from 32 countries competed at the GT Open. The next points event on the Indoor Archery World Series takes place in Taipei in the second week of December.

Winners: GT Open