Prieels unifies indoor and outdoor European crowns

Sarah Prieels won the European indoor title in Koper, Slovenia at the start of 2015. With sunshine on the field in Old Market Square, Nottingham, UK, she dominated her opponent, Alexandra Savenkova of Russia, in the gold medal match. 

Prieels is perhaps more of an indoor specialist, and also won a bronze in the world indoors in Ankara this year – where Savenkova came fifth. But the Russian never really got going in the match in Nottingham, shipping three eights and finishing with seven nines.

Prieels shot solidly and had no trouble taking it, 145-136, increasing her lead with every end.

“I had like 10 points to play with at the end, so nines were good and, to be honest, I didn’t shoot a single great shot so I’m quite pleased,” said Prieels. “I had a few issues this week, but I shot a 146 against Kristina Heigenhauser. I managed to win most my matches this week on the last three arrows!” 

Up next for the 26-year-old Belgian: “The worlds, and next year there’s the World Games as well. So yeah, I’m quite pleased about the World Games space and I’m looking forward to the next European Indoors as well.”

Top finishers in the compound competition in Nottingham qualify spots to the World Games in Wroclaw in 2017.

Mariia Vinogradova took bronze over Amelie Sancenot of France, salvaging a win from a mixed day for the Russian compound teams, who would have hoped for more from this meeting. 

In the compound men’s competition, and in his third appearance of the day, Stephan Hansen knew he would face a strong match against Peter Elzinga, the defending European Champion from 2014 - despite their last match, indoors in Marrakesh, ending in a win for the Dane.  

Tied after three ends at 87 apiece, Elzinga strayed just two arrows into the nine over the last two ends. But Hansen had hit his stride and shot the last two ends clean, roaring as he delivered the last 10.

He was European Champion. 

“I knew that he had a really good chance.” said Hansen. “He’s a really good archer and I’ve shot against him a lot of times, but I just went in there and did my game as best as I could.” 

Having shot in both team events already, he credited the extra field time with helping his performance.

“I had a lot of practice here and I think that kind of helped me. I knew how my nerves will reacted when I went onto the field, because I’ve been there twice and I think that kind of helped me a lot,” Hansen added.

World Archery Champion, European Team Champion, and now European Individual Champion… what’s next for Hansen?

“I’d like to win it all again!”

The bronze medal went to Dominique Genet of France, who pipped Ivan Markes by a point in the last end after the Croatian shot a nine. 

One of dozens of medals that the veteran Frenchman has collected over the years, he opened up about what kept him motivated: “Archery has been a passion for many years. Every medal is different, you win it in a different way. It was stressful, but it’s a good way to finish the European Championships: with a bronze medal.”

The afternoon started with the finals of the mixed team competition, where an experienced Italian team, featuring Federico Pagnoni and former mixed team world champion Marcella Tonioli, didn’t have too much trouble beating Slovenia, 157-148.

The experienced Slovenian pairing weren’t on their game today, whereas Italy opened with four 10s and only put three arrows out of the central ring all match. 

They were more concerned about the weather: “It was a great week, just a little cold for us!” said Pagnoni.“But the shot was great, the feel was great and we’re happy for this!”  

In the bronze medal match, Spain beat defending champions Denmark for the bronze medal, in Hansen’s second match of the day. The Danish pair took some time to find their range, and despite punishing the 10 ring when they finally found, the Spanish stayed consistent enough to take the medal by a single point. 

It was the Spanish team’s first outdoor mixed team medal.

“I was nervous and I was feeling all the pressure of opening and having to leave more time for Alberto as he takes longer to shoot,” said Andrea Marcos. “We are a good team and we’ll keep working to repeat it!”