Paralympic medallists, including Jessica Stretton Great Britain’s youngest winner at 16 at Rio 2016, headline a star-studded field as the 5th Fazza Para Archery World Ranking Tournament got underway with the qualification rounds in Dubai on Friday.
Hosted by the Dubai Club People of Determination with the support of the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) and in cooperation with Dubai Sports Council, General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare and the UAE Paralympic Committee., the event will see around 100 archers from 20 nations participating, with Australia and Bhutan taking part here for the first time.
With world ranking points on offer, the event is expected to offer some fierce competition. Players and teams from Great Britain, Italy, Korea, Japan and Brazil will be the top ones to watch out for this week. Also don’t miss out the Malaysians and archers from Slovakia, with their World No. 1 Marcel Pavlik also in action here.
Italy has arrived here with the largest contingent of 15 players with their Rio Paralympic silver medallist Alberto Simonelli spearheading the team in the men’s compound open category.
Stretton vs Grinham
In the women’s compound open event, the battle for the gold is expected to be between Rio 2016 medallists and fellow British archers Stretton and Jodie Grinham, while the men’s section should be dominated by the Italians. Slovakian Pavlik and Italian Simonelli are favourites for the title. Veteran Finnish archer Jere Forsberg is another name to look out for.
Stretton, who has the Rio 2016 gold in women’s W1 category, says there is strong competition in the open category. Her coach Rikki Bingham told the Asian Paralympic Committee: “She (Stretton) is adapting to the new category and training has been changed accordingly. The competition here will give us an idea where we are right now and where to improve as we go ahead into the season.”
The British youngster is looking to get some good competition experience here in Dubai before the World Championships in the Netherlands In June.
Harvinder aims gold
India’s first Asian Para Games 2018 medallist Harvinder Singh is here too and looks to be in top form. Singh along with his compatriot Vivek Chikara have reached he second round in men’s recurve open category. A good match practice and medal is what Singh is targeting here. “It was a satisfactory round today. This is the first competition of the year so I am aiming to win a gold here and take the momentum to the World Championships. We can learn lot of things from the competition and amend our strategy and technique. The entire Indian team is looking to improve world ranking points here,” Harvinder told Asian Paralympic Committee (APC).
Mongolia’s Amarbayasgalan Azbileg will also be aiming to make a mark in the category.
The Japanese team has the likes of their Asian Para Games 2018 medallist Shigeshada Chika (recurve women) and Aya Shinohara (W1).
Koreans Asian Para Games 2018 medallists Jeong Jin Young (compund open women), Kim ok Geum (women’ W1) and Jang Dae Sung (men’s W1) also look confident.
Bhutan, who are yet to compete at a Paralympic Games, have sent their first para archer, Pema Rigsel to the event. He is looking forward to getting some experience of international competition, is just excited to be part of the competition and hoping to return home with some lessons. “I want to compete more in international meets and get experience. I am not aiming for any medal. Everyone is so strong here,” he added.
The tournament runs till April 15 with the finals to be played on Monday.