Blind archer wins European silver medal

Stuart takes aim in the gold medal match EMN-170119-115832002
Stuart takes aim in the gold medal match EMN-170119-115832002

Blind archer Stuart Rodgers came within a whisker of European gold after a finding top form in France last week.

Rodgers, a member of Louth and District Archers, was one of four British archers to earn a place at the 2017 Vision Impaired Archery Tournament (VIAT) at Saint Herblain, near Nantes.

Stuart with his spotter Rick Smith, chairman of Louth and District Archers EMN-170119-115843002

Stuart with his spotter Rick Smith, chairman of Louth and District Archers EMN-170119-115843002

Three of the quartet returned home with trophies, including the Sutton–on–Sea archer who won silver in the VI V1 (totally blind) category.

The whole tournament, including Saturday practice took place under World Archery rules and was controlled and supervised by WA judges.

Competition began on Sunday morning with a qualifying round of 60 arrows at a 60cm target, shot in sets of three from a distance of 18 metres.

The top four archers then competed in a matchplay head-to-head semi–final followed by medal matchplay shoot-outs.

Tension and excitement built as the four blind finalists exchanged the leadership.

Eventually the semi–final pairings were established and the two Frenchmen were separated with Rodgers going up against the leading Frenchman.

In the medal matches, the first athlete to six points won, and the Lincolnshire man was first to break the French hearts by winning three straight sets with a score of 6–0.

The second semi-final was a closer contest, but Jordi, representing Spain and Andorra, won through to join Rodgers in the gold medal match and leave the Frenchmen to fight it out for bronze.

The gold medal shoot-out saw both men duel to the last, with Rodgers opening a 2–0 lead early on.

Jordi hit back to win the next to sets and establish a 4-2 lead, but Rodgers showed true British grit by winning the next set to level up the match at four-apiece.

Even the judges became caught up in the titanic battle between two blind Archers on top of their game, calling on the spectators to get vocal and support their favourite.

A hush fell over the hall as the final shots were taken, and Jordi bettered Rodgers’ score by just four points to leave him to settle for a well-earned silver medal.