Israel will send an archer to the Olympics for the first time ever, as athlete Itay Shanny qualified on Monday for the Tokyo 2020 games, with a stellar performance in the final qualifying tournament held in Paris.
“I’m still trying to process this whole thing,” Shanny told The Times of Israel after the tournament. “This is something I’ve worked on for years and reaching this point is unreal. It’s a great feeling. I managed to shake off the nerves and was focused and precise, like in another world.”
In the sport, contestants shoot arrows at a target 70 meters (some 230 feet) away using a recurve bow.
Shanny, 22, scored 656 points and placed 23rd out of 94 contestants in the initial qualification round, which was followed by a series of knockout rounds.
He first beat 90th seed Oliver Ormar Ingvarsson (Iceland) 6-0 and overcame Latvia’s 42nd seed Janis Brunis 6-2. Shanny then scored an upset 6-5 victory over 10th seed Senna Roos of Belgium to reach the round of 16, where a win would mean meeting the Olympic quota.
Facing Croatian Alen Remar, who placed 7th in the qualification round, Shanny pulled off a 6-4 win, making it to the final eight and securing a spot in the Olympics, which begin next month.
ברוך הבא!הקשת איתי שני הצטרף היום למשלחת ישראל לטוקיו.בהצלחה!!!
In the quarterfinals, Shanny lost 3-7 to the eventual winner of the event, Russia’s 2nd seed, Galsan Bazarzhapov.
Though Shanny will be the country’s first archer in the Olympics, he is not the first to meet the Olympic quota. Shanny’s coach, Guy Matzkin, achieved the Olympic benchmark for participating in the London 2012 Olympics, but did not compete because he did not meet an additional Israeli benchmark, which Shanny has met.
Israel’s Olympic team now includes 81 athletes in 17 different sports, with recent days seeing more and more qualifications, and the coming days expected to bring more, eclipsing the previous record of 47 Israeli athletes at Rio in 2016.