Recurve men’s teams from the Netherlands and France, and recurve women’s teams from Denmark and Ukraine won the final full three-athlete quota places for the Minsk 2019 European Games at the last-chance qualification tournament.
Dutch head coach Ron van der Hoff said securing the team spot was a relief.
“We’ve been focusing on the team a lot this winter,” he added. “Last year and the years before, we had good individual archers but we were losing too many matches for the quality of the team we had.”
“Even if you look at the field at the quota tournament, it was still pretty tough. I don’t know if we need the European Games in preparation for the Olympics but it’s the one and only opportunity to get experience in the format before the Games.”
Steve Wijler’s first two seasons as an international have seen him take a world championship bronze medal, a European title and become the world number one for a while.
He joined Sjef van den Berg – who last week became the first European archer to break 690 in qualification – and 2015 World Archery Championships runner-up Rick van der Ven in a team that, on paper, is one of the world’s very best.
But the failure of the trio to qualify for Minsk at last year’s European Championships was a disappointment, and final fours on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit haven’t come as easily as might be expected for such an accomplished group of athletes. The Dutch camp has put in serious off-season work to rectify that.
“They really feel like they are performing well at the moment,” said Ron. “The difference between knowing it and feeling it can be the difference between winning and losing a medal.”
Netherlands and France join Belarus, Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, Russia and Spain in the eight-team recurve men’s competition in Minsk.
The recurve women’s team event will see Denmark and Ukraine compete with Belarus, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Russia and Turkey.
Each of the four teams that qualified at this last event had already secured a spot for a single athlete in the respective divisions, meaning those places are returned to the individual quota pool.
A total of 24 quota places for Minsk 2019 remain available only to countries without a place already secured in each respective category.
Seven places are still to be awarded in the recurve men’s and recurve women’s events, while there are five spots to be won in the compound men’s and compound women’s competitions.
These upcoming European Games will be the first to include compound.
The final qualification tournament for the Minsk 2019 European Games is taking place at the European Grand Prix in Bucharest, Romania.