A Paralympic Preview: Archery

With the Paralympic Games rapidly approaching, Report On Rio will preview every event that has a Canadian team competing in Brazil — featuring past results, schedules, rosters, and expectations.

Evans Para-Archery
Kevin Evans has won two para-archery world championships (2007 and 2009) in his career.

Norbert Murphy’s podium finish at the 2012 London Games was mammoth for Canadian para-archery.

His third place result in the men’s individual compound bow competition for W1 (wheelchair class) bow-and-arrow marksmen ended Canada’s 28-year medal drought in Paralympic archery.

Experienced Paralympians Kevin Evans (Jaffray, B.C.) and Karen Van Nest (South Bruce Peninsula, Ont.) will attempt to build upon Murphy’s accomplishments. Evans and Van Nest will compete in the men’s and women’s individual compound competition respectively, and they will join forces to vie for a mixed team compound medal.

Sambódromo is the host site for para-archery in Rio. The 140-athlete competition will start on Sept. 10 and end on Sept. 17.

                                                                  Road to Rio:

Evans and Van Nest —born a day apart in 1962, he Sept. 28, and her Sept. 29— both earned their individual qualification quota spot for Rio by faring well at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto.

Sharp sniping with her compound bow earned Van Nest a silver medallion in the ladies competition. She was taken down in a tight 140-132 gold medal showdown by Brazil’s Jane Kara Gogel.

As for Evans, he came very close to winning a medal at the Parapan Ams too as he fell 141-138 to the American Ben Thompson in the bronze medal match. The United States swept the podium, but since the rules dictate that one country can only secure two quota spots for Rio at the Parapan Ams, the spot was awarded to the Canadian.

                                                                Meet the Duo:

Van Nest is appearing at her fifth Paralympic Games in September.  She made her team Canada debut at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia as a para-shooter. She displayed great form shooting her 10-metre air pistol, but ultimately she finished just off the podium in fourth place.  She came close again four years later with a fifth place finish in Athens, Greece. The Beijing, China Paralympics were a struggle as she dropped back to 17th in the final rankings.

After witnessing the para-archery competition in Beijing, Van Nest was inspired to give the sport a try. She joined the national team the following year. She made her Paralympic archery debut in 2012, and performed solidly with a ninth place showing in individual women’s compound bow.

In addition to shooting and archery, Van Nest is adept at rowing as she won bronze at the 2006 World Rowing Championships.

Evans’ decision to start competing in para-archery nationally in 2003 as paid off handsomely. He won world championship titles in 2007 and 2009, and the gold medal at the 2011 Parapan Ams in Guadalajara, Mexico.

When he is not jetting around the world for competitions, the 53-year-old spends his time operating  Kootenay Archery Ltd., a company that crafts gear for archery enthusiasts.

                                                         Expectations:

Neither Canadian is being touted as bona fide medal contenders heading into Rio due to their standing in the world rankings. Van Nest is 13th in the world amongst women firing the compound bow, while Evans is 26th in the men’s rankings.

However, both of them have proven experience of excelling in international competitions. A darkhorse run to a medal  — individually and in the pairs event — can be in the cards if they execute at their highest level.


Photo and Video Credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee

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