Drahoninsky regains Paralympic crown, medals in fourth consecutive Games

David Drahoninsky shoots at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

David Drahoninsky has regained the title of Paralympic Champion, which he first won in 2008, after a thrilling W1 men’s final against Nihat Turkmenoglu under the floodlights in Yumenoshima Park at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

“I did what I promised to my father. I think he sees me now and is very proud of me,” said Drahoninsky, whose father passed away two years ago.

“I’m very, very happy with that result. It was very hard, but today my dream came true.”

The 39-year-old Czech athlete has now medalled individually at four straight Paralympics. He took gold at Beijing 2008, silver at London 2012 and Rio 2016, and has now returned to the top step of the podium at Tokyo 2020.

“In London or Rio, I wished this medal to some other guys because it’s amazing to achieve it,” he said.

“But sorry, my friends. Today I told myself I would win, and I did!”

It is Drahoninsky’s second medal of these Paralympics, having already finished runner-up in the W1 mixed team competition, paired with Sarka Musilova.

The second seed in the individual tournament, Drahoninsky cruised through his first two matches by margins of 11 and eight points.

Facing the favourite, Turkmenoglu, in the final, the standard was elite.

David dropped just four points through 12 arrows, had 116 and a two-point lead, and was on pace to break the world record in the arena at Yumenoshima Park.

In one arrow, everything changed.

Turkmenoglu shot a 10 with his first arrow of the fifth end, while Drahoninsky lost tension as he executed, his expression dropping as he watched his arrow drop, too – and land low in the seven. Suddenly, he was a point behind.

He caught up with the penultimate shot, landing a nine to Nihat’s eight. When the Turkish archer finished with a nine, the former champion simply needed a closing 10 to regain the title.

David delivered.

The tense finish was the perfect ending to an impeccable day of competition.

“The final match was really amazing,” said the silver medallist, Turkmenoglu. “It was a hard battle and I did very well, so I’m happy with the silver.”

Archers from Turkey finished in second and third, with reigning world champion Bahattin Hekimoglu beating Iran’s Mohammadreza Zandi to bronze.

“These are my first Paralympics, so I‘m very happy with the medal,” said Hekimoglu, who lost to his teammate in the semis.

“I’m so happy that I could compete with Nihat. It’s the first international competition in which we’ve met. Let’s say, I let him win as I’m older!”

Archers competing in the W1 category are the athletes with the greatest level of disability at the Paralympics and usually have impairments in the trunk and both the top and bottom halves of their bodies.

Competition continues in Tokyo on Tuesday with medals awarded in the compound men’s and W1 women’s events.