Breakthrough athlete Wijler also named recurve man of 2017

12 February 2018
Las Vegas, NV (USA)
In his first international season, Steve Wijler collected both the breakthrough and recurve men’s athlete of the year awards.

The Netherland’s Steve Wijler was the big story as World Archery’s Athlete of the Year Award winners for 2017 were announced during the 2018 Indoor Archery World Cup Final in Las Vegas, USA on 10 February.

As well as being named breakthrough athlete of the year for winning his first-ever Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Shanghai, Wijler was also named the recurve men’s athlete of the year for a season that saw him also podium at the Hyundai World Archery Championships and climb to fourth in the world rankings.

“I didn’t expect to win at all. I saw all those big names and I thought I’d never win it, so to do so is just awesome,” said Wijler. “I hope I deserve it. The public seem to think so.”

After nominations are received from federations, the athletes of the year are voted on by a combination of public poll and expert panels. Over 72,000 public votes were cast for the 2017 awards.

Here are the results in full.

Recurve men

Winner: Steve Wijler, Netherlands

Nominated: Brady Ellison, USA; Kim Woojin, Korea; Im Dong Hyun, Korea; Wei Chun-Heng, Chinese Taipei

A debut season at 21 years of age saw Steve Wijler win the Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Shanghai, come third at the worlds in Mexico City and finish the year ranked fourth in the world.

Recurve women

Winner: Lisa Unruh, Germany

Nominated: Ksenia Perova, Russia; Chang Hye Jin, Korea; Ki Bo Bae, Korea; Tan Ya-Ting, Chinese Taipei

Olympic silver medallist Lisa Unruh beat out World Cup Final winner Ki Bo Bae and World Archery Champion Ksenia Perova to this second award in a row thanks to her win at the World Games in Wroclaw.

Compound men

Winner: Stephan Hansen, Denmark

Nominated: Mike Schloesser, Netherlands; Sebastien Peineau, France; Demir Elmaagacli, Turkey; Braden Gellenthien, USA

The world’s number one ranked compound man took gold at the World Games and was one shoot-off arrow away from winning his second World Archery Championship title in a row in Mexico City.

Compound women

Winner: Sara Lopez, Colombia

Nominated: Sarah Sonnichsen, Denmark; Yesim Bostan, Turkey; Song Yun Soo, Korea; Tanja Jensen, Denmark

A third Athlete of the Year award in a row for Lopez, who wasn’t as dominant as in past years in 2017, but still took gold at the World Games and finished the season ranked number two in the world.

Para men

Winner: Alberto Simonelli, Italy

Nominated: Jeff Fabry, USA; David Drahoninsky, Czech Republic; Zhao Lixue, China; Ai Xinliang, China

Simonelli performed both on the para circuit and as part of the Italian able-bodied team in 2017, coming extremely close to making an individual final on the World Cup circuit and representing Italy in the mixed team event at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Rome.

Para women

Winner: Zahra Nemati, Iran

Nominated: Tatiana Andrievskaia, Russia; Jessica Stretton, Great Britain; Zhou Jiamin, China; Jane Karla Gogel, Brazil

After reclaiming her World Archery Para Champion in Beijing in October, two-time Paralympic Champion Nemati reclaimed this Athlete of the Year title for the second season in a row. 

Breakthrough

Winner: Steve Wijler, Netherlands

Nominated: Bryan Alvarado Fernandez, Costa Rica; Victoria Rumary, Great Britain

A first Hyundai Archery World Cup stage win at the first such event in his career, Wijler officially broke through into the cream of the world stage at Shanghai 2017.

Coach

Winner: Ron van der Hoff, Netherlands

Nominated: Natalia Valeeva, Italy; Ni Ta-Chi, Chinese Taipei; Stanislav Popov, Russia; Richard Priestman, Great Britain

Coach of double award winner Steve Wijler, Ron van der Hoff is contracted to lead the Dutch international squad through the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Archery Awards have been presented annually since 2014 to athletes and officials for exceptional performance or contribution to the sport. 

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