Europe’s Olympic places awarded in Nottingham
Six invitations to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were up for grabs at the event, held on the Friday before finals at the 2016 European Archery Championships.
Turkey won two of those places, one men’s and one women’s, while Slovakia, Finland, Azerbaijan and host country Great Britain all secured their first tickets to the upcoming Olympiad.
In four matches, Anagoz surrendered just three set points – before winning a shoot-off in the final of the event, when her space was already secured.
“I cried after I won the spot. It was so important for me, for everyone. Now I can take a deep breath,” she said. “I shot strong today because yesterday I made some stupid mistakes and I learnt from it. Tomorrow I will be even better and I’ll keep learning.”
Gazoz had a small scare in the last 16, when host nation archer Larry Godfrey took him to a shoot-off, but Mete shot a strong 10 to keep his campaign alive – and proceeded to bully through the next two rounds, both in 6-2 scorelines, to secure a place. He, too, won the final in a tiebreaker, but his Rio place was won.
“There’s two big things from this week. It was very important that we made the gold medal finals on Sunday, to show how Turkey is improving every year. It was also important to take both women’s and men’s places for Rio,” said Mete, who shoots for the European individual title this weekend.
“I’m thinking I can win on Sunday, too!”
The semifinal match that secured 16-year-old Gazoz his place put host country archer Patrick Huston on the back foot and into a make-or-break third-place play-off. Against Serbia’s Luka Popovic, Patrick – with strong British support – was able to emerge victorious in a tense five sets.
Samuli Piippo took the second men’s spot after winning his semifinal over Popovic in straight sets. Finland didn’t quality an invitation to London 2012, and Piippo said he was content that at least one Finish archer would be in Rio.
Alexandra Longova from Slovakia had the second place in the women’s competition.
“I never really thought it was possible to win here, I didn’t expect it. The weather was good, I felt great, my shooting worked well, I was enjoying it and the sun was shining. It was the perfect conditions for me to win,” Longova said.
Azerbaijan’s Olga Senyuk came fourth in the main qualifying competition in Copenhagen in the summer of 2015, barely missing out on an Olympic place at the first opportunity on the road to Rio.
“I was really scared that was going to happen again,” admitted Olga.
But she did one better in Nottingham, taking third ahead of Belarus archer Marusava – and qualifying Azerbaijan its first ever Olympic spot in the archery competition.
“Before the last match, I was very nervous, I wasn’t sure I had it – but I had really good support,” she said. Many of the Ukrainian team stood behind to add their voices to the Azerbaijani squad’s. “It really helped me. I came out, and did my best and I did it!”
One opportunity to qualify either individual or team places to Rio remains, at the third stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya, Turkey, where a minimum of 24 invitations will be available.