Para Archery at the Parapan Am Games
After an absence from the Parapan American Games in 2019, archery returns to the program in Santiago with both new and returning faces representing Team USA. At the Parapan American Games Toronto 2015, the United States claimed eight of 12 possible podium finishes in archery and will look to continue that winning tradition.
With Paralympic Games Paris 2024 quota spots up for grabs, competition will be fierce. A total of 48 archers will compete at the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023, nearly double the number included in Toronto 2015. In Santiago, Kevin Polish and Eric Bennett will headline Team USA. Ranked 10th in the world, Polish is primed for competition after recently winning gold at a world ranking event and team bronze at the 2023 World Archery Para Championships where he also broke a world record in the same event. Bennett, a multiple-time world champion and four-time Paralympian is certainly on track to make an historic fifth appearance.
Candice Caesar, Wendy Gardner and Jason Tabansky are all medal contenders for Santiago and will look to secure spots for Paris 2024 with top individual finishes.
USA Para Archery has no shortage of incredible storylines and talent from athletes.
- Missing Champions: The United States’ reigning Paralympic and world champion Kevin Mather is off the roster due to a clause that prohibits him from competing since he’s already secured a quota spot for Paris. Regardless, Mather looks to continue that momentum next year and defend his Paralympic title at the Paris Games. Armless archer Matt Stutzman will also be absent from Santiago, but is highly anticipated to appear at his fourth Games next year. Stutzman and Kevin Polish secured Team USA the maximum quota slots for Paris 2024 in the compound men’s open division. Having claimed silver at the Paralympic Games London 2012 and the 2021 world title, Stutzman appears hungry for the gold in the upcoming Paris Games.
- New talent: Team USA will debut new talent in Santiago, including 27-year-old Tracy Otto from Downers Grove, Illinois. Otto will compete at her first Parapan Am Games in the individual W1 event after representing Team USA at her first international event at July’s World Archery Para Championships in the Czech Republic. Ranked 12th in her classification, Otto came cross the sport recently and is the most impaired archer to ever be classified in the U.S. Otto is a survivor of a brutal domestic violence attack and is passionate about becoming an advocate for women and an inspiration to others with severe physical disabilities that success in sport is absolutely possible.
- Giving Back: Both women on Team USA’s roster for the compound open division have started charities aimed at helping disabled people access adaptive equipment for participation in sports. Tink Wallace runs a charity that modifies donated wheelchairs for different sports. Wendy Gardner has a charity that develops adaptive archery equipment to reduce barriers to entry, given that adaptive archery equipment is not sold in stores and is often completely custom to each participant.
Athletes to Watch:
- Kevin Polish Jr. is currently ranked No. 10 in the world. Polish recently earned a bronze team finish with Matt Stutzman at the 2023 World Archery Para Championships, where the duo broke a world record in match play. Paris would be his second appearance at the Games.
- Eric Bennett has competed at four Paralympic Games and has won multiple world championship medals throughout the years. The high school physics teacher continues to make training a priority and his mental game is strong headed into what could be his fifth Games.
- Candice Caesar heads into competition ranked 10th in the world in the women’s recurve open event. The 51-year-old from Manvel, Texas is a U.S. Army veteran and will seek a medal at her first Parapan Am Games in Santiago.
- Wendy Gardner is Team USA’s top ranked compound women’s open competitor at 18th in the world. The stroke survivor from Wilson, North Carolina will compete at her first Parapan Am Games. She’s already struck bronze in Santiago this time last year at the 2022 Para Pan American Championships in the compound open event.
Team USA qualified its initial six slots for Santiago, one in each division, with top finishes at the 2022 Para Pan American Championships in Santiago last year. Team USA was awarded an additional three bipartite commission spots for W1 men, recurve women open and compound women open.
For Paris 2024, each country can qualify a maximum of two quota spots per category (men's and women's W1 and recurve and compound open). USA Archery has earned the maximum compound men open spots and one recurve men open quota place with top finishes at the 2023 World Archery Para Championships. Our next opportunity to earn a maximum of one recurve men, one W1 men, one W1 women, two compound women and two recurve women spots will come at the Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile. These places will be assigned based on finishes in those individual medal events. At the final qualification tournament in Dubai in 2024, the two highest ranked athletes in each individual medal event will obtain a maximum of one quota spot per NPC.
Full U.S. athlete selection procedures for the 2023 Parapan American Games can be found on USA Archery’s website.
USA Archery will nominate a team for Paris 2024 using cumulative rankings from two stages of Paralympic Trials Qualification Events and a third/final Trials event. The events began in April 2024, and will finish in Newberry, Florida in May 2024. The events will feature 72 arrow rounds and round robin matches.
- Stage #1 2024 Paralympic Trials Qualification Event: 2024 USAT Event #1
- Stage #2 2024 Paralympic Trials Qualification Event: 2024 USAT Event #2
- Stage #3 2024 Paralympic Trials Event: 2024 Stand-Alone Event following 2024 USAT Event #2
Para Archery Roster