Danielle Brown retained her Paralympic Archery title beating teammate Mel Clarke in a nail-biting all-British women’s Compound (Open) final that went down to the very last arrow at Royal Artillery Barracks today (Tuesday).
Yorkshire archer Brown won gold in 2008, aged just 18, and at 22 she is now a two-time Paralympic champion after defeating Clarke 6-4. Clarke, from Norwich, went one better than four years ago, taking silver to go with her bronze from Beijing.
After the British pair had drawn the first two sets, scoring 27 and 29 apiece, Brown took the third 27-26. Two 10s and a nine gave Clarke the fourth, 29-27 to set up a tense finale.
Clarke went ahead after the first shot of the final set, burying her arrow in the gold centre for 10 to Brown’s nine. But the champion maintained her consistency, scoring another nine with her second while Clarke faltered with eight, leaving one arrow each to decide the gold.
Brown held steady to score another nine, while Clarke’s aim wavered at the death and her final arrow of the tournament hit the ring worth seven, her lowest-scoring shot of the day.
Both archers had scored 136 with their 15 arrows but Brown secured the necessary six set points winning two sets to Clarke’s one.
“I started off on the last set with a good arrow, so Mel had to play catch-up, needing a 10 to win, and she didn’t quite make it,” said Brown.
“I don’t regard it as competing against Mel, I just compete against myself and that way I can concentrate more.”
Brown has been one of the faces of London 2012, appearing in TV adverts and firing an arrow at a moving target during the official opening of the Olympic Stadium in May. She admitted the attention at times has been been difficult to handle.
“Defending the title has been crazy because you’re under so much pressure, especially the last couple of weeks,” she said.
“But winning in London is much better than Beijing – the whole tournament and me being able to win a gold in front of my whole family has been marvellous.”
Clarke admitted her last arrow “could have been better” but described her silver as “fantastic”.
“A silver is unreal,” she said. “It’s fantastic for me. If I was going to get beaten in the Paralympics final, there’s nobody I’d rather get beaten by than Danielle.
“The whole crowd was behind us and lifted us tremendously but I think we were both nervous at times and fired a few loose arrows.
“Certainly my last arrow could have been better but I’m not too disappointed. I shot my very best in the semi-final and could only reproduce it in patches in the final, but I still shot five 10s and I was feeling good throughout.”
Britain were guaranteed gold and silver after the semi-finals when Brown and Clarke were too sharp for the Russians, Marina Lyzhnikova and Stepanida Artakhinova.
Brown disposed of Lyzhnikova 6-2 in four ends to win her place in the final, while Clarke swept away the challenge of Artakhinova 6-0 in three to set up the all-GB affair.
Of the beaten semi-finalists, Artakhinova won the all-Russian battle to take bronze, 7-3.
Brown’s victory maintains her stranglehold over this event. Since she first burst onto the international scene aged 17 in 2007, she has won three world titles and two Paralympic golds, plus a women’s Team gold in able-bodied Archery at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
“I’ve done lots of able-bodied before but the Paralympics is better,” she said. “It’s much more friendly.
“And I’m not going to switch to Recurve, I like the Compound,” she added. “For me, the more competitions the better, able-bodied as well as Paralympics.”
Brown completed a law degree in 2011 but confirmed she will be sticking to firing arrows for the time being. “I’m certainly not going to do that, I much prefer this,” she said.
Clarke, who lost to Brown at the 2009 World Championship final, and could only finish seventh at the 2010 European championships, dedicated her London 2012 silver to her coach Greig Middleton.
“Now I am preparing for Rio in four years’ time,” she said. “I’ve got it in my sights and it would be nice to complete the set, now that I have silver and bronze.”
Britain’s London 2012 Archery concludes on Wednesday when the men’s and women’s Recurve Teams play quarter-final ties at Royal Artillery Barracks with semi-finals and finals to follow.