Hemel's archery medallist selected to represent Great Britain at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
Paralympics GB announces archery team members for Tokyo
Paralympic gold medallist Jess Stretton, from Hemel Hempstead, has been selected to represent Great Britain at the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games this summer.
ParalympicsGB made the announcement today, the other archers joining the 21-year-old are gold medallist John Stubbs, Nathan Macqueen and Hazel Chaisty, who makes her Paralympic debut in Tokyo.
The four athletes represent the second sport to be announced as part of the ParalympicsGB team bound for Tokyo, joining six shooting Para sport athletes named earlier this year.
Jess - Compound Women Open - made an immediate impact on her Paralympic debut at Rio 2016, winning individual gold in Women’s Individual Compound W1 at just 16-years-old - the youngest archer at the Games. She also claimed gold in the mixed W1 event alongside John Walker and Jo Frith.
While the talented athlete heads to Tokyo to hopefully win again in a new category, she feels no added pressure.
"I've just turned 21, I've been an archer for eight years and have loved it from that first arrow,” said Stretton.
“Everyone’s adapted really well to training at home and staying positive. The squad are so close, we all support each other in working towards Japan.”
In 2017, Jess was made an MBE for her services to archery. Since Rio, Stretton has changed category – she now competes in the Compound Open and claimed individual silver in the 2019 World Para Championships in the Netherlands, setting a new world record in the process.
She also won bronze at the World Youth Championships the same year.
Jess, who is hoping for gold at the games, added: "Training is going well at the minute, we have been able to train for quite a few months.
"It's going well, everyone's training hard and getting hyped up and gearing up, ready to go, and getting competition ready.
"Preparation has been mostly the same, repetition shooting and competition drills, things like that. The only thing that has been really different was that last year, everything was put on hold.
"We just had to do what we could, gym programmes and workout at home to keep fit.
"I'm really excited about Tokyo, I'm an anime fan, so for me to be able to go to Japan and be there, where anime was created, will be really cool.
"I'm also looking forward to going out there and seeing the culture.
"It was difficult last year, with lockdown it was hard to keep the motivation going, and all the uncertainty made it difficult.
"I'm really glad that the games have been rescheduled for this year, I think it gives us all something to work towards.
"There's loads of protocols in place to keep everyone involved safe and I'm really looking forward to it."
Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe said: “I am delighted to welcome Jess, John, Nathan and Hazel who together bring great experience to the ParalympicsGB team, and a laser-like focus on their Tokyo targets.
“Great Britain has a great history of success in archery at previous Paralympic Games and I know our four archers will relish the opportunity to shine on the biggest stage of all.”
Paralympic Team Leader Tom Duggan said: “All four athletes have worked tremendously hard to get to the position they are in today and there’s no doubt they are fully deserving of their place on the ParalympicsGB team.
“I am extremely proud of the determination, commitment and composure Jess, John, Nathan and Hazel have shown, particularly over the last year. They’ve adapted their homes to make room for gym equipment as well as doing bow drills with resistance bands in their gardens.
“Adjusting and adapting to new ways of training due to the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated their drive and flexibility. I know this will stand them in good stead both in the build up to and during the Games."
Archery’s final Qualifying Tournament for the Paralympic Games is scheduled to take place in July with a number of British athletes still looking to secure a spot on the ParalympicsGB team.
A total of around 240 athletes from 19 sports are expected to make up the British team that will compete in Japan, with further names to be announced in the coming months.
ParalympicsGB captured the imagination of the British public at London 2012 winning 120 medals in front of sell-out crowds with countless memorable performances.
The team eclipsed that performance at Rio 2016 winning an outstanding 147 medals including 64 golds to finish second in the overall medal table.
The rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be staged from August 24, to September 5.