Steve Wijler wins Lausanne Invitational after perfect 12-arrow final

Dutch archer Steve Wijler capped an incredible four finals at the Lausanne Invitational with a perfect four sets – and 12 arrows in the 10-ring – to beat reigning Indoor Archery World Series Champion Florian Unruh for the recurve men’s title.

Wijler joined Lisa Barbelin, Mike Schloesser and Erika Damsbo atop the podium.

“I don’t think I’ve been this nervous in about 10 years," Wijler said after his victory. "I was really, really shaking. I’m really happy to be back, and I’ve got the sense for more.”

Floria Unruh, who married fellow German archer and reigning Olympic silver medallist Lisa Unruh over the summer, shot well, starting with two 30-point sets. But arrows landing millimetres outside of the 10-ring in the third and fourth series spelt doom for the second seed.

The top-ranked archer heading into the second stage of this international circuit, Felix Wieser, took recurve men’s bronze with a victory over Thomas Chirault.

Chirault was the top seed, having shot 596 out of a possible 600 points for the 60-arrow 18-metre round in qualifying.

The recurve women’s event in Lausanne featured a high qualifier from France. Twenty-year-old Lisa Barbelin posted an impressive 591 and eventually found herself facing Gaby Schloesser in the final. Schloesser won the first invitational, during November, in Wohlen.

It was a topsy-turvy match. Barbelin opened with a 30, but Schloesser responded with two before the French archer came back with another perfect set in the fourth to tie the account, 4-4, and force a deciding fifth volley.

Gaby then landed three arrows just out of the 10, while Lisa caught two – including with her definitive last shot – to win the match, 6-4.

In her post-event interview, the young Frenchwoman praised her opponent and the tug of war for control of the final, saying it was a bizarre feeling to be back in competition after so long because of the pandemic. 

Danish married couple Erika and Martin Damsbo contested the compound title matches. Erika was up first, against surprise Swiss finalist and sixth seed Clementine de Giuli.

Ahead early, things fell apart for the Dane in the third end, and she fell a point behind on score when she shot an eight.

But it was as if a different archer stepped onto the shooting line in the fourth. Damsbo drilled three 10s to recover an advantage and rode that slim lead to a one-point victory, 141-140, after some last line calls went her way.

“We both looked at each other and thought it was a shoot-off, so it was a bit of a surprise, actually,” said Damsbo. “It’s so amazing to stand on the line and feel like your whole body is shaking and you’re there going, I’d completely forgotten what this was like.

“To come here and do this after such a long break, it was really amazing.”

Damsbo's husband, Martin, also showed nerves early, opening with three 10s before dropping three points with a board of nines in the second. Just six arrows into the final, Damsbo trailed reigning Indoor Archery World Series Champion – and winner of this season’s first invitational event in Wohlen – Mike Schloesser by three.

It was too large a deficit to overcome. By the fourth end, the focus was squarely on Mister Perfect’s chance at a perfect 150-point match. Schloesser held clean until the final shot but pushed his last arrow wide left, finishing on a 149 but taking a comfortable three-point victory.

“Of course I wanted to shoot that perfect 150," said world number two, Mike, who added that he'd need a couple more tournaments to return to competition shape. "That last arrow, the beginning was not good enough, and there’s not enough time to redo it, so I just battled through it."

All four winners received a watch courtesy of World Archery’s timekeeping partner, Longines.

Thirty-one archers were invited to compete at this exhibition competition in Lausanne. Invitations were based on the results of the first remote stage of the indoor circuit and the archers’ position in the open ranking.

The ranking round scores of the three Dutch finalists will not be the results that count toward their open ranking for the second stage of the Indoor Archery World Series.

Due to ongoing uncertainty surrounding travel plans, the three archers shot an event in the Netherlands on Friday to ensure they would register results, as they all represent teams on the circuit. Gaby Schloesser and Wijler are shooting for a top Dutch Olympic squad; Mike Schloesser is part of an international TRUBall/Axcel Archery trio.

The Lausanne Invitational coincided with the second remote stage of the 2021 Indoor Archery World Series. More than 5000 archers worldwide registered to participate.

Initial results for the remote event are expected on Tuesday, with results finalised two weeks after the competition, following checks of the results lists, target faces and scorecards submitted as evidence.

The third stage of the Indoor Archery World Series is scheduled for 15-17 January 2021. It is likely to be accompanied by another invitational following the one-week delay of the Sud de France – Nimes Archery Tournament.

The 2021 Indoor Archery World Series is a mass-participation circuit of live and online archery tournaments.