Best of British at Para archery opener in Dubai

Simonelli also stars as quest for Tokyo 2020 spots hots up

female Para archer Jessica Stretton prepares to shoot an arrow Jessica Stretton was one of the British archers to claim gold in Dubai © • Getty Images

Great Britain topped the medals table at the first world ranking event of the 2019 Para archery season in Dubai, UAE, where Italian veteran Alberto Simonelli hit the headlines again with yet another world record.

With the qualification process for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games beginning in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, this summer, the stakes were high in Dubai.

Brilliant Brits

British athletes claimed gold in the recurve women’s open, compound women‘s open and compound open mixed team events, while Italy took seven podium spots – the most of any country in attendance.

“It’s always fantastic to win an international competition and I know with the weather conditions being difficult, I did what it took,” said Brit Jodie Grinham, who beat Italy’s Maria Andrea Virgilio in the compound women’s open final, 138-135.

“Topping the medals table as a team has and will massively lift our confidence. Winning a medal individually always boosts your own energy but when a large number of teammates do it, the result is far greater.”

Simonelli the star

Simonelli was the highlight of the Italian side, breaking his own world record during qualification.

The veteran scored 707 out of a possible 720 points for the 72-arrow 50-metre ranking round to raise his own compound men’s open world record by one.

The 51-year-old, who was runner-up at the last Paralympic Games, had held the record at 706 points since late 2015.

“I didn’t expect to arrive in Dubai with the intent of shooting a new record, but I was aware of how I was doing and found myself at ease on this shooting field,” he said.

“I shot with serenity and was relaxed, and this score was the result.”

He also holds the world records for the 15-arrow 50-metre match play round, at 150 9X, and the 70- and 30-metre distances of the 1440 Round.

But the men’s compound open in Dubai went to Slovakia’s Marcel Pavlik. Simonelli took third, behind silver medallist Peter Marchant.

“This season I’ve seen several athletes grow technically,” Simonelli said. “My focus is Tokyo and I will have to work hard to improve my results for it.”

Best of the rest

Britain’s Hazel Chaisty won the recurve women’s open gold medal. Japan’s Ueyama Tomohiro and Shinohara Aya won the recurve men’s open and W1 women’s competitions; and Finland’s Jean Pierre Antonios topped the W1 men’s podium.

Britain (compound open), Italy (recurve open) and Korea (W1) won the mixed team events.

Complete results from the Fazza Para Archery World Ranking Tournament are available on World Archery’s website.