Final fours: Title contenders at the 2021 Pan American Championships
Four archers remain in each individual category at the 2021 Pan American Championships.
They will compete for continental champion titles in front of the cameras Sunday in Monterrey, Mexico. The compound session starts at 9h00 CST (local, and the recurve session starts at 13h00 CST (local).
This is the format that will be used on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit in 2021. Rather than deciding the medal match line-ups on the elimination field, any member of the final four will have to win two matches in the arena to take the top spot on the podium at an international event.
Colombia, led by world number two Sara Lopez, and Mexico, bolstered by young archers Ana Vazquez and Valentina Vazquez, dominate this weekend’s line-ups. Guatemala, Brazil and Chile are also represented.
These Pan American titles are not the first major results of the event.
Ten quota places for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games were awarded on Friday, followed by six quota places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Saturday.
The final fours are listed below in match order. The first two archers face each other in the first semifinal, the second two in the second semifinal. Each archer’s seeding at this event is given in brackets.
- Sara Lopez, Colombia (1)
- Esmeralda Sanchez, Mexico (4)
- Alejandra Usquiano, Colombia (3)
- Nora Valdez, Colombia (2)
This event ran by the book following qualification in Monterrey, with the top three seeds from that ranking round making it into the semifinals – and the final four for the very last day of competition. Three of those four archers are from Colombia, and they are led by none other than five-time Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion Sara Lopez.
Seeded first at this event, Lopez shot a 150-point match with 10 Xs during her eliminations. It’s impossible to bet against that experience, and her enthusiasm for head-to-heads, after the long competition hiatus.
Unless 22-year-old Esmerelda Sanchez can pull off a major upset in the semis, Lopez will face one of her two teammates – Usquiano or Valdez – in the final. As a trio, they make an excellent team – one that was crowned Pan American Champion earlier this week – but there’s still a clear leader.
Who’s the favourite? Sara Lopez
- Juan Fernando Bonilla, Colombia (1)
- Daniel Munoz, Colombia (5)
- Antonio Hidalgo, Mexico (6)
- Julio Barillas, Guatemala (2)
Munoz has won multiple international medals and took bronze at the most recent Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in 2019. But he has been outshone at this event by Colombian teammate Bonilla, a former recurve archer competing in his first major tournament with a compound.
Hidalgo is the defending Pan American Champion, while Barilla is a complete wildcard – albeit one displaying significant promise ahead of a home stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup next month. Munoz’ experience, and his recent record, even if it’s a year out-of-date, make him the man to beat.
Who’s the favourite? Daniel Munoz
- Ana Vazquez, Mexico (9)
- Valentina Vazquez, Mexico (4)
- Maira Sepulveda, Colombia (11)
- Valentina Contreras, Colombia (2)
On home soil, in Mexico, it’s not the experienced faces of Aida Roman and Alejandra Valencia we’ll see in the Monterrey finals arena, but their younger teammates, Ana Vazquez and Valentina Vazquez. They represent the exciting new depth in the well-respected Mexican recurve women’s team, and this final four is an opportunity for both to gain significant arena experience ahead of an important year.
Ana was the silver medallist in the under-21 (junior) category at the most recent world youth championships, and 18-year-old Valentina won the open ranking in the remote Indoor Archery World Series, which just finished.
One of the pair will face one of Colombian duo Sepulveda and Contreras in the final. Neither has medalled at an international tournament of this level before – though the former has climbed podiums at the Bolivarian Games, a regional multisport event in Latin America – and (at least) one will in Monterrey.
Who’s the favourite? Ana Vazquez
- Marcus D’Almeida, Brazil (1)
- Ricardo Soto, Chile (12)
- Santiago Arcila, Colombia (3)
- Bernardo Oliveira, Brazil (10)
The 2021 version of Marcus D’Almeida is a different animal to the 2016 version, when he was heading to a home Olympics with unparalleled expectations on his shoulders at an extremely young age. He had taken silver medals at the Youth Olympic Games and Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in 2014 – yet he hadn’t matured into a stable performer at international events.
Still just 23 years old, it feels wrong to say he’s in the second stage of his career, but it’s probably true. This Marcus, who placed second at the Pan American Games in 2019, is level-headed enough to return and remain at the very top if he continues his current trajectory.
Let’s not write off his Brazilian teammate Oliveira, who finished fourth at those Games, nor Soto of Chile, who finished ninth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the age of 16. Colombian archer Arcila has only one prior major international on his record. This is his first shot at a big podium.
Who’s the favourite? Marcus D’Almeida
The 2021 Pan American Championships concludes with individual finals on Sunday.