Iran’s London 2012 and Rio 2016 gold medallist Zahra Nemati struck the first blow in her expected battle with China’s defending champion Wu Chunyan at the Beijing 2017 World Archery Para Championships.
Nemati, who inflicted Wu’s only defeat in last year’s Paralympic final, finished 12 points clear as the top scoring women’s recurve archer in the open ranking round with 648, shooting consistent halves of 323 and 325 at the sports centre on the outskirts of the Chinese capital that was built for the 2008 Games.
"It was good. It was fine, the only problem was the wind because the direction was not quite clear," said Nemati.
"We’re still at the very beginning of the competition, we have to continue competing so I’ve promised myself to not put too much pressure on myself."
Wu was second on 636 points, 10 ahead of Italy’s Elisabetta Mijno.
A total of 246 archers from 41 nations are scheduled to compete in Beijing, including all six Rio 2016 champions in the recurve, compound and W1 classes.
After further ranking rounds tomorrow, individual elimination competitions are due to begin on Friday (September 15), with the recurve open and W1 finals scheduled for Saturday (September 16) and the compound open finals on Sunday (September 17).
Slovakian archer Marcel Pavlik, fifth at Rio 2016and still awaiting his first major medal, topped the open qualification in the men’s compound event as the only one in the field to hit 700 points.
Pavlik, who made his international debut four years ago, finished top of the ranking on a day defending world champion Alberto Simonelli, who has been shooting on the Archery World Cup circuit as part of Italy’s top national team, scored 695 points.
The 41-year-old Slovakian archer lay in third at the end of the first half and then, while Australia's Jonathan Milne and America's Ben Thompson dropped off in the second, shot an identical back 36 arrows to score consecutive 350s.
"I’ve been here before, where I’ve finished first in qualifications. It’s all good, but it’s what happens next that really matters," said Pavlik.
"I actually had my bets on Alberto Simonelli to win.
"He is my archery idol - I love competing against him."
Simonelli said: "The start was very terrible for me.
"So I’m pleased to be in a good spot and finish second behind my friend Marcel."
Meanwhile Fabio Tomasulo, gold medallist as a novice at the 2014 Invictus Games and making his debut in this competition, helped the Italian recurve men’s open team to rank third as the individual standings were headed by South Korea’s Kim Min Su with 641 points.