Paralympic Champion starting from scratch at 2019 world championships
Reigning Paralympic and world para champion Jessica Stretton won’t be defending her title at the 2019 World Archery Para Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands – despite the fact that she is shooting at the event.
That’s because the former W1 athlete recently switched division – and is competing in the compound women’s open category now.
“If I’m honest, it’s quite exciting because I’ve gone from being at the top to being at the bottom and having to find my way back up,” she said.
“So, to be at the world champs so soon after changing, I’m actually quite pleased. It’s proving that I’m making my own way in the category and that I’m fighting to get to the top.”
A successful W1 archer, Jessica won bronze at her first worlds in Donaueschingen in 2015, won the Paralympic Games at the age of 16 – and then collected double gold in the individual and mixed team events at her second World Archery Para Championships in Beijing in 2017.
The switch in category has meant a change in opponents and alterations to the equipment she can use.
W1 archers can shoot a compound bow but it must be limited to just 45lbs in peak draw weight and they are not permitted to use magnifying scopes or levelling bubbles in their sights. Athletes in the compound open division can have those gadgets – and 15lbs more on the draw weight, with the limit at 60lbs.
The 19-year-old said it took some time to get used to using a peepsight – but that her progression has been fast. And with more than just world titles on the line in ’s-Hertogenbosch, she’s had no time to waste.
Eighty of the 140 quota places at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be awarded at these championships.
“My goal at this specific tournament is trying to get a quota place for Tokyo. I think top-eight, definitely, if I can get a medal that would be the icing on the cake, but I think I’ve set my sights more realistically at the quota place,” said Jessica.
Despite an international career spanning just four years, Stretton has already left her mark on para archery. She was the youngest archer at the Paralympics in Rio – and a winner – but none of that matters in Den Bosch. Jessica is starting from scratch.
“Each championship has its differences and similarities at the same time. Competing is the same because it’s the same layout – 720 and head-to-heads,” she said.
“You’ve got different fields, people, surroundings. And I try to treat each one different because anything could happen.”
There are 50 para athletes competing in the compound women’s open division at the 2019 World Archery Para Championships. Twelve of them will win quota places for Tokyo 2020 before the end of this week.
The 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships take place on 10-16 June and World Archery Para Championships on 3-9 June in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.