Stoke-Mandeville, England – Despite difficult weather conditions, the U.S. team of para archers at the Stoke-Mandeville Open and Para Qualifying Event had a successful beginning to their competition, with three time Paralympic Games medalist Jeff Fabry leading the charge.

After qualifying number one in the ranking round, Fabry went on to shoot his way through several match wins today, clinching a berth to Friday’s gold medal final after a 6-2 semifinal victory versus Peter Kinik (SVK). Several other U.S. teammates shot as far as the quarterfinals and 1/8 rounds, including Jerry Shields, Chuck Lear, Jonathan Mize, Natalie Wells and D’Arce Hess.

On the first day of competition, the number of competitors on the field (174) coupled with severe wind gusts and rain, necessitated schedule changes and even a lack of shelter due to the wind conditions. Nonplussed, the archers of Team USA forged ahead, and earned high qualification rankings in several categories. The compound W1 men’s category was led by Fabry, who qualified first with 639. Team USA’s Chuck Lear ended his day in sixth place with a 533, while teammate Jerry Shields shot a 516 to finish his day in seventh.

For the recurve standing men, it was Armando Cabreira (FRA who led the category, with his top qualifying score of 548. He was followed by Matthias Alpers of Germany, shooting a 546, and Phillip Bottomley of Great Britain, qualifying third with 538. For the U.S. team, it was Michael Lukow who was the top qualifier, in twelfth with 498, followed by Travis Akin, sixteenth with 477, and Steve Bosson, shooting a 468 to qualify 18th.

The recurve standing women’s category had equally tough competition, with Eliane Salden-Otten (NED) leading with 279, while Javzmaa Byamasuren (MGL) shot a 277 for the second place ranking. In third was Germany’s Katharina Schett, shooting a 273. The top U.S. entry in this category was D’Arce Hess, qualifying eighth with her score of 250. Hess was followed by Natalie Wells, in fifteenth with 235, and Lee Ford, shooting a 224 to finish in 17th. (Complete scores for this category were unavailable as of this writing).

In the recurve W2 men’s category, U.S. archer Russell Wolfe qualified 13th with a 492. He was the sole American entry in this category, which was led by Spain’s Jose Marin with a 548, Korea’s Jung Young Joo with 545, and Mario Oehme (GER), shooting a 536.

The U.S. also had very strong qualification scores in the compound open men’s group, in which Italy’s Lorenzo Schieda led with a 647. He was followed closely by Lewis Denton (USA), who shot a 644 to qualify number two, and Philippe Horner (SUI) with a 643 for third. Other U.S. entries in this category included Jonathan Mize, qualifying sixth with a 637, and Joseph Bailey in forty-thrid with a 580.

Thanks to strong shooting in the qualification rounds, USA was able to rank fourth in the recurve women’s team qualifications, which were led by Poland, Great Britain and the Czech Republic. For the recurve men’s group, the team was sixth in a category that was topped by Poland, France and Italy. The team qualified on top for the compound men’s team, followed by France and the Czech Republic. USA did not enter competitors in the women’s compound categories.

The U.S. team is supported by Para Head Coach Randi Smith, along with Paul Miller and M.J. Rogers at this event, as well as team leader Robby Beyer. USA Archery thanks the U.S. Olympic Committee for its support of the U.S. team at this event.

The excitement in Stoke Mandeville continues with the Para Qualifying Event on Thursday, in which the U.S. teams will shoot for quota spots for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and the finals of the Stoke Mandeville Open on Friday, in which Fabry will shoot for the men’s compound gold medal. Follow the action with USA Archery’s updates on Facebook and Twitter; complete results are available at http://www.archery.org.

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