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Amid so many glorious stories to tell, the London 2012 Paralympic Games unveiled to the world the talent of Iranian Zahra Nemati. Last year, the 28-year-old archer became the first Iranian woman to win a gold medal at either an Olympic or Paralympic Games.
In London 2012, Nemati won the gold medal in the women's individual recurve bow W1/W2 competition and also took bronze in the team recurve bow event. The Iranian had a black belt in Taekwondo before she was involved in a serious accident in 2004 that left her with a spinal cord injury. Two years later, she took up Archery.
Nemati’s feat was so important that she won the Spirit of Sport Individual Award in May at SportAccord, an important sports convention held this year in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
“This is great and proud honour for me and my country. I am very glad as an Iranian woman that I am representing all Paralympians from all over the world in receiving this award”, she said in statements published on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) website after picking up her award.
Athletes with different disabilities such as amputations, paraplegia or tetraplegia compete in Para-Archery. They are divided into three classes: ST (for athletes with a certain degree of impairment that may compete standing or sitting in a regular chair), W1 (athletes who suffer from tetraplegia or motor impairment in the arms and legs, competing from a wheelchair) and W2 (athletes who suffer from paraplegia, with motor impairment in the legs, also competing from a wheelchair).
The sport was the first to have competitors with disabilities, in the Stoke Mandeville Games of 1948 in England and it is part of the Paralympic Games programme since the first edition, held in Rome in 1960. In the London 2012 Games, 140 athletes participated, competing for medals in nine events.
In total, eight countries made it to the top of the podium in London. A special mention also goes to Russian Timur Tuchinov, who won two gold medals – recurve bow standing in both individual and team. The other countries that became Paralympic champions were: South Korea, China, Great Britain, Italy, United States and Finland.
First Brazilian Championships were held in 2007
Despite being so ancient, the sport is very recent in Brazil. The first Brazilian Para-Archery Championships were only held in 2007, gathering just four athletes. In 2010, Brazil sent a delegation to compete in the sport’s world championships for the first time. The pioneering team was made of six archers: Ademar Carlini (RJ), Andrey Castro (GO), Francisco Dantas (RN), José Henrique Campos (DF), Julio Cesar de Oliveira (SP) and Luciano Reinaldo Rezende (DF).
The following year, Francisco Dantas finished fourth in the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan American Games, and fell short of winning an unprecedented medal for Brazil. The sport is still progressing in Brazilian territory – so much so that the number of people registering for Brazilian competitions continues to grow year after year.