An archery shootout for the ages
Stephan Hansen was the hero of the day in today’s archery competitions. Out of the eight men and women who advanced to the semi-finals, no one shot with the precision and accuracy of the Dane – who was simply flawless. Unfortunately, the day also marked the end of the road for Poland’s archers.
A total of 48 archers (24 men and 24 women) opened a new chapter in The World Games history. Although the competitions featured several compound bow specialists, no amount of technical wizardry could explain what Stephen Hanson accomplished. To say that the Danish archer, a favourite of these Games, advanced to the semi-final in unprecedented style would be an understatement.
In the deciding match, Hansen defeated defending champion Reo Wilde. The American did not shoot poorly – quite the opposite. Out of a possible 150 points, he claimed all but two. But it wasn’t enough as the leader in the world archery rankings accomplished something that was nothing short of a miracle. Every single one of his shots landed in the exact center of the target, giving him a perfect 150 points. How did he do it? In his own words, the recipe is simple: “I just aimed at the centre!” he claimed with a laugh. “Of course, I usually shoot pretty well. And today was a particularly good day for me. I felt good and everything seemed to be going my way. I didin’t feel nervous at all and I managed to control my emotions and shot straight.”
Hansen’s good shooting was the end for Wilde, the defending champion, who already has a long list of titles and accomplishments to his name. It will serve as extra motivation before the final matches tomorrow. “Of course, it motivates me. Reo is one of the most outstanding archers out there. Everyone knows that he’s capable of winning it all, no matter where he is. To defeat him is something really special. Especially because I have such respect for him and I realize that on any other given day, he could have defeated me,” said the world’s top-ranked compound archer.
After such a victory, it will be no surprise to see Hansen in the role of favourite heading to the semi-finals and finals at the Pergola. “I have a good feeling heading into tomorrow’s matches. I feel really strong and prepared to fight for the gold. I know the Pergola from the World Cup and it’s a really nice spot. I can still picture the fountain in the background – I like that! I’m sure it’s going to be great tomorrow,” commented Hansen with confidence. In the semi-final he will face Holland’s Peter Elizgina. The second pair will pit Croatia’s Domagoj Buden versus another tournament favourite and second in the world rankings, Mike Schloesser, also of Holland.
Sara Lopez, a long-time figure atop the world rankings, advanced to the semi-finals in the women’s side of the tournament. She will face Russian Alexandra Savenkova, along with American Christie Colin and Slovenian Toja Ellison. If the latter sounds oddly familiar, it is because she is the wife of TWG 2017 silver medallist in classical bow, Brady Ellison.
For Poland, today marked the end of the road for its archers in Wrocław. Łukasz Przybylski fell in the round of 32, but will leave Wrocław happy, having attained a new personal best. Mariya Shkolna battled valiantly, hoping to move on the quarters, but was blocked by Sarah Prieels of Belgium who beat her by two points. “In general, I’m happy,” said the 19-year-old Shkolna. “In the qualifiers, I could have shot better at the first distance for sure. But that’s how it went – too bad. The second distance was very good for me, so I can’t complain. I’m happy with myself and I had a good day. Unfortunatley, my opponent was bette. She’s been strong ever since the qualifying round. Anyway, it didn’t work out for me. I tried to catch up, but I was behind by two at the beginning and at the end it was those two points that I was missing.”
It was the first Games for Shkolna, who was born in Ukraine and up until two years ago was competing for Poland’s eastern neighbours. She will, no doubt, long remember this first tournament. “It’s been great. All the leading archers ended up here in Wrocław and it was really nice to shoot with them. I’m just glad I could make it into the top sixteen. Right now, I’m number 35 in the world rankings and here I ended up in the top sixteen, so it’s a good result – but I’d still like to make it into the top eight,” said Shkolna with a smile.
Things also didn’t work out so well for Poland’s mixed-pairs team. Shkolna and Przybylski were defeated in the quarterfinals, opposite the Danish pair. “We ended up facing the top pair right away and it was tough,” said Shkolna. “We really had to aim high, but we ended up just a little bit short, unfortunately.” That fact they faced an uphill battle was confirmed several hours later by Hansen’s historical round.
Tomorrow the archery competition gets underway at 10.00 in the Pergola, next to Centennial Hall. The mixed pairs will battle it out first, before the singles matches afterwards.