SOL23: Para archery athletes breaking new ground at Sol2023 despite limited participation

Only five athletes from two countries are competing in Para archery events at Sol2023. Photos: Trevor Aiharia, Pacific Games News Service.

Para archery athletes at the Sol2023 Pacific Games are breaking new ground for the participation of people with disability in archery competitions, but unfortunately the medals they win will not be counted on the medal tally.

This is because an event must have a minimum number of competing nations for medals to be counted and, unfortunately at Sol2023, only two countries are contesting Para archery events – Tahiti and hosts Solomon Islands.

The Tahiti archery team consists of two male Para athletes, Atonia Maitia and Raiarii Teuiau, competing in the men’s compound event.

Solomon Islands has three Para archery athletes – Bobby Sunaone competing in the men’s compound against the two Tahitians, along with Rose Lidia and Noela Olo competing in the women’s recurve. Lidia is also competing alone in the women’s compound.

While athletes will be awarded medals to reflect their rankings in the events, these medals will not count towards their nation’s total on the medal tally, due to the lack of competition.

Sol2023 archery technical delegate Alison Hagaman told the Pacific Games News Service that Para archery is yet to be introduced to many countries in the region.

“The challenge is that a lot of countries, particularly Pacific countries, are on a very new path in the sport of Para archery and have trouble getting equipment for their teams to be able to participate.

“Adaptive aids are also another factor, where Para athletes need these (extra pieces of equipment) to help them compete, and special facilities are also needed to support all Para athletes to get them fully equipped to compete in this sport,” explained Hagaman.

“Some Pacific countries do not have (many) Para athletes and taking extra care of them is also one of the key priorities in this sport, so that they will be able to compete in a safe sporting area,” she added.

However, Hagaman praised those competing from Solomon Islands and Tahiti, and acknowledged the progress they are forging for the sport, which will hopefully encourage more Para athletes to take up archery ahead of the 2027 Pacific Games in Tahiti.

Archery continues at DC Park until Friday. Entry is free.

By Tali Dever and Joyce Koiari, Pacific Games News Service