US Paralympian Fabry Takes Gold at European Grand Prix
The US Paralympic Archery Team made a strong showing at the European Grand Prix, held this past week in Stoke-Mandeville, England, with US Paralympian Jeff Fabry (Tulare, CA) and Natalie Wells (Manteca, CA) both bringing home gold medals, and several other athletes posting high qualification scores and strong finishes in elimination rounds. The weather proved variable during this World Ranking Event, held at Stoke-Mandeville Stadium; conditions ranged from cool and rainy to sunny and very humid. Including the United States, seventeen nations took part in the event, which opened with the Arrival of National Delegations on July 17, followed by official practice on July 18.
The competition got underway with ranking rounds on July 19 for Standing Compound Open Men in the morning; Jonathan Mize (Muncie, IN) brought his A-game to shoot a 678, clinching the number two spot, while teammates Lewis Dugan Denton (Juliet, MI) and Joseph Bailey (Flushing, MI) qualified 8th and 13th, with 668 and 660, respectively. Standing Recurve Men and Wheelchair 2 Recurve Men shot their ranking rounds in the afternoon; Team USA athletes in these classes were Michael Lukow (Ft. Sam Houston, TX) and Steve Bosson (San Antonio, TX) for Standing Recurve Men, and Russell Wolfe (Williamsburg, VA) for Wheelchair 2 Recurve Men. Lukow shot a solid 571 to qualify third, while Bosson scored a 487 to rank 15th; Wolfe qualified 12th in his class with a 507.
Qualification rounds for Wheelchair 2 and Standing Recurve Women followed on the morning of July 20, and the US had a strong delegation in the latter class, with Wells shooting a 565 to qualify third, Eileen Ford (Atlanta, GA) taking the eighth spot with her 548, and Lori Dupree (Austin, TX) finishing the day ranked thirteenth with a 430. The afternoon's ranking rounds followed, with Compound Open Women and Wheelchair 1 Compound Men taking to the field. Ashlee Sheppard (Piedmont, CA) was the sole US athlete in the Compound Open Women's class, and held her own in her first international event, finishing in tenth with a 614. For the Wheelchair 1 Compound Men, US Paralympian Jeff Fabry hit a strong 659 to qualify first, followed by Jerry Shields (Jacksonville, FL), who scored a 540 to rank sixth.
Elimination rounds began on July 21, which utilized the FITA set system and ran through the quarterfinal matches. Several athletes in the US delegation had notable finishes; though Wolfe, Bosson, Dupree, Ford, Sheppard, Denton and Bailey were all eliminated before or during the 1/8 matches, and Shields retired after his final match of the day, four Team USA archers advanced to the semi-finals and medal matches, which would be shot the next day. Fabry, who finished the day with wins throughout, moved on; he was joined by Wells, who had a 6-4 quarterfinal win; Lukow, who advanced following a 7-3 victory, and Mize, who also advanced after a shutout match to end the day.
On the final day of competition, both Lukow and Mize moved on to the bronze medal matches following the semi-finals. Lukow shot well but ultimately was defeated, 6-2, while Mize kept pace with his opponent, tying the match 5-5 but eventually losing the bronze in a heartbreaking single arrow shoot-off. Wells took her semi-final match with a shutout 6-0 score, advancing to the gold medal match, where she repeated that accomplishment, winning the gold medal, 6-0. Fabry once again displayed the mettle that made him a US Paralympic Team member, taking his semi-final match with a 6-4 win, and advancing to take the gold medal in the final match, also with a 6-4 victory.