Top Asian archers Suresh Selvathamby and Nur Syahidah Alim, both World No. 1s and World Champions, will lead a star-studded field at the 6th Fazza Para Archery World Ranking Tournament that begins with the qualification and ranking rounds on Tuesday.
The Malaysian star Selvathamby and Alim from Singapore will be up in action in the Recurve Men Open and Compound Women Open categories at the Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds.
“For me, I am looking to maintain my score in this tournament. After the World Para Archery Championships in the Netherlands, this is the first event in this New Year. So, it will be important to have a good competition here,” Selvathamby said after a practice round here.
The 26-year-old Selvathamby is expected to have a strong challenge from his Japanese rival Tomohiro Ueyama who defeated the Malaysian for the title here last year. While Alim will have to beat the likes of Great Britain’s promising star and World No. 2 Jessica Stretton and Italian Maria Andrea Virgilo, last year’s runners-up, for top honours.
“I am really excited to be here as this is the first time, I am competing in Fazza Championships. It will be nice to start the year on a good note. It’s little hot here, but that is okay. Archery is anyone’s game so I will look to give my best here,” said an optimistic Alim.
Elsewhere, Great Britain will have Hazel Chaisty, world no. 6 and defending champion, in Recurve Women Open field, which will be spearheaded by the likes of Poland’s Milena Olszewka (World No. 2) and Elisabetta Mijno (World no. 3).
Great Britain Team leader Rikki Bingham was hoping that her players have some good warm up here before going into the Continental Championships. “I hope this event will help the players get back to the competition mode. We are expecting 7-9 players to qualify for Tokyo 2020 Games.”
Strong competition in W1 categories
The wheelchair categories will also see a strong competition as Turkey’s Bahattin Hekimoglu and Russia’s Elena Krutova, both World No. 1, will be in action in Men’s W1 and Women’s W1 (Rec/Comp), respectively.
In Compound Open men’s event, Slovakian seasoned compound Para archer Marcel Pavlik was keenly looking ahead to the tournament.
“I am preparing hard to have a good 2020 season and Fazza Championships is one of the important events in my calendar. For me, this year I am looking to participate in as many tournaments with Para archers and abled body archers as well,” said the defending champion Pavlik who finished fifth in Rio 2016.
Much like others, Team Azerbaijan who are participating for the second time hoped to have a good preparation going ahead. “We are looking to start the year on a good note. We will be aiming Tokyo 2020 points in the next events in Italy and the Czech Republic,” team coach Ilgar Abbasov said.
Hosts Team UAE will field five players and were eager to compete against some of the top stars.
Event officially opened
After the first official training session (Recurve Open and W1), Chairman of the Local Organising Committee His Excellency Thani Juma Berregad officially opened the championship. “On behalf of the Organising Committee, I would like to welcome all the athletes and officials to this edition of Fazza Championships. I wish the athletes a successful tournament in the start of a New Year and pleasant stay in Dubai,” Mr. Berregad said.
Meanwhile, World Archery secretary general Um Sung-Ho, who is also the Technical Director of the Championships, said: “This year we have the Paralympic Games and thus this tournament is important in terms of the preparation of the players going ahead. Also, many of you will be back here for the World Para Archery Championships next year. I wish you good luck.”
“I also would like to appreciate the organisers for their kind hospitability. This is a very well-organised event.”
As many as 111 archers from 24 nations will vie for glory in the five-day event, with Italy and Turkey fielding the highest 15 players each. Hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid bin Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and organised by Dubai Club for People of Determination, the semi-finals and finals of the championships will be held on Feb. 21-22, 2020 (Thursday and Friday).