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Elisabeth Straka, Reena Parnat, and Elif Berra Gokkir clinched the top three spots on the podium in the European qualifier held in Essen, Germany, securing individual quota places for Austria, Estonia, and Turkey in the recurve women's category for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

World Archery European Olympic qualifiers - Women

"It's a dream come true," expressed Straka after her straight sets victory over Quinty Roeffen in the semifinals. "For many, many years I've worked for this, and now the dream came true." Parnat, 30, advanced to the final shortly before Straka, following a tense encounter where she narrowly defeated eventual bronze medalist Gokkir. The match concluded with the pair tied in the final two ends, each scoring 27 points.

The top-seeded player's loss in the semifinals meant she needed to secure victory in her bronze medal match against Roeffen to secure the third and final quota place up for grabs. Gokkir's impressive performance included shooting a 10 in the shoot-off, securing Turkey a women's spot in Paris.

"I am thrilled, proud of my achievement, and grateful for the quota," expressed the 17-year-old. "It wasn't over for me. I maintained my focus, stuck to my shooting style, and emerged victorious in the match. I’m proud of myself, but still, we want to get the quota for the team, the women’s team and we will still continue.”

Six additional quota places for Paris will be distributed this week in Essen to the teams that emerge victorious in the European Championships for both recurve women and men. This could potentially result in the reassignment of some individual quotas obtained either at this event, the Pan American Games, or the previous world championships.

Estonia's Parnat booked her place at the Paris 2024 Olympics. GETTY IMAGES
Estonia's Parnat booked her place at the Paris 2024 Olympics. GETTY IMAGES

Parnat from Estonia confessed that she wasn't entirely sure if she had achieved enough after releasing the final arrow in her semifinal. “I was just doing my thing, so I didn’t know what the score was,” she said. “I didn’t think about it, I just knew I had to shoot as good as possible.”

It also took a few moments for her coach, Siret Luik, to comprehend the magnitude of her protegee's accomplishment. “And when I finished my shot, I just watched her, and she was a little bit also like ‘what just happened? And that’s why I was a little bit confused if I made it or not. I didn’t see my last arrow, so I didn’t know where it went.”

Securing the quota place for Estonia marks Parnat's third Olympic campaign, having previously competed in the London 2012 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. In the final match of the morning, Straka initially trailed Parnat after one set while competing for first place. However, the Austrian archer quickly elevated her performance, achieving scores of 29 points twice consecutively, followed by a final score of 28, securing the gold medal in four sets.

“It’s an incredible, incredible feeling,” she said. “Normally dreams don’t come true, but this is real now and I’m so happy to represent Austria in Paris 2024 Olympic Games. My strength is to become stronger when I need to be stronger and I’m just so happy that everything came true as I wanted," she said.

World Archery European Olympic qualifiers - Men

In the men's European qualifier for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, a gold medal match featuring all-Dutch recurve men resulted in Slovenia and Ukraine also securing places. Both top seeds, Steve Wijler and Senna Roos, successfully navigated their way to the final without any significant upsets. In the final match, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mixed team silver medalist Wijler defeated his compatriot with a score of 6-2.

“I feel super satisfied of course, the Olympic quota was our main objective, and the moment Senna won his match, we knew it was in,” said gold medallist Wijler. "I’m happy that we got it. It’s always very difficult to win these kinds of matches because it’s a new day. Yesterday, we were in a kind of a rhythm and today we had to start all over again.”

During the quarterfinals, Ziga Ravnikar of Slovenia emerged victorious over his teammate Den Habjan, while Mykhailo Usach of Ukraine caused a surprise by defeating world number three Mauro Nespoli. Ravnikar and Mykhailo might have felt a greater sense of relief compared to Wijler, given that each country could only secure one quota from the qualifier. This ensured that whoever finished third and fourth would still earn Olympic spots for their respective countries.

“Today I just became number one Netherlands fan I guess,” Ravnikar said. None of these three nations had secured a quota spot for the upcoming Olympics scheduled for this summer.

Dutch Archer Wijler will be another to compete at the upcoming Games for his nation. GETTY IMAGES
Dutch Archer Wijler will be another to compete at the upcoming Games for his nation. GETTY IMAGES

Mykhailo from Ukraine will be especially thrilled as this will mark his debut appearance in the Olympic Games. Despite being ranked 400th in the world, he achieved a significant upset in the quarterfinals by defeating Italy's Nespoli, even after trailing 4-2 following the third set.

“I’m very proud today about the quota going to Ukraine,” said Mykhailo after qualifying. “The goal for me of course was getting the quota, but the focus was for my technique and to shoot one by one in good quality.It’s like my small secret was that focus for technique.”

Mykhailo suffered his second loss of the day at the hands of Ravnikar in the bronze medal match, where Ravnikar emerged victorious with a 9-8 win in a shootout. For the 24-year-old Mykhailo, Paris will mark his second Olympic Games, following his participation in Tokyo 2020, where he exited in the first round. 

Later this week in Essen, six more quota places for Paris will be contested by the winners of the recurve women's and men's teams at the European Archery Championships. This may result in the reassignment of certain individual quotas earned either at this event, the European Championships, or the previous World Championships.