Eric Bennett adds drama as USA win recurve men’s para team world title
The USA, China and Russia won gold medals in the recurve men’s team, women’s team and mixed team competitions at the 2019 World Archery Para Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.
The final between USA and Russia was a rematch of the recurve men’s open team gold medal match of the last world championships.
Two years ago, it was Russia that won, 6-2. But this time in ’s-Hertogenbosch it was the USA para athletes who were more consistent. They didn’t lose a single set point during their victory.
“I’m ecstatic. But actually, I don’t think there is a good word to describe our feelings. It’s awesome,” said Michael Lukow.
Eric Bennett wasn’t on the team that took silver two years ago but has been shooting internationally for a long time. Shooting the last arrow of the third set, Bennett made things a little more dramatic.
With time running down, Eric let down after a brief flinch at full draw. He reset, redrew and put himself in a position to shoot again. That arrow landed in the nine – and it was enough to seal the victory, 6-0.
“This is an awesome experience. The three of us have been shooting together for many, many years. We won many medals but we’ve never won world championships. And here, we achieved that. Just awesome,” said Bennett.
“I like dramatic finishes. So I wanted to make sure it was as dramatic as possible,” he joked.
“No, actually my clicker clicked weird so I let down and decided to make a better shot. And luckily I did, so it paid off.”
The USA team had plenty of support from teammates in the stands – and were vocal between themselves on the line.
“We’re friends outside of competing. We just hang out together so it's more like a friend thing. It’s easier to stand on by your friends than your competitors,” said Timothy Palumbo.
China took the recurve men’s open team bronze medal over India in a tiebreak.
The Chinese women’s team mounted a second successful defence of its title. The reigning champions from Donaueschingen in 2015 and Beijing in 2017 beat Turkey, 6-0.
“We love this sport very much. We all want to work hard at each practice. You can’t stop, you have to practise. And that’s why we have the confidence to win the championships,” said Gao Fangxia.
The Chinese athletes emphasised the role team spirit played in their success.
“We know each other very much. We’ve confidence, we encourage each other and the coach supports us, too. We know then when we're together, we can be the best,” added Lin Dandan.
Wu Chunyan, who won her fifth gold medal at the para worlds, paid gratitude to the coach:
“We followed our coach’s instructions. It’s the most important to listen to the coach and adjust. The second important thing is to practice and focus.”
After a dramatic tiebreak, Italy won the recurve women’s open team bronze over Russia, 22 points to 16.
“I’m definitely pleased. It was very good for us to experience that,” said Bato.
The Russian duo had an issue in the first set. In para team archery, athletes are obliged to raise their arms after each arrow to indicate their next teammate can begin. That didn’t happen properly – and it showed on the target, allowing Italy an early lead.
But once Russia settled down, Bato and Svetlana’s average arrow value went up.
The pair shot 36 out of a possible 40 points for the back two sets to jump ahead and grab the win, 5-3.
Barantseva, also a double European Champion, three times was a silver medalist at the para worlds. Gold was missing from her collection.
“Team support really helped us to win,” she said.2 We saw people cheering us on. And of course, it was teamwork.”
China beat 5-3 South Korea to secure the recurve open mixed team bronze medal.
The 2019 World Archery Para Championships take place on 3-9 June in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.