Chilean compound archer Mariana Zuniga made history at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games by taking silver after a final against Great Britain’s Phoebe Pine, who won gold by one point, 134-133.
“Everything has gone so fast today. I only remember that I had to focus all the time. I feel like I’ve been dreaming. It was a great experience and I enjoyed it,” said Mariana.
Chile’s youngest para athlete at the Games seeded 14th in qualification with 671 points, two points ahead the newly-crowned Champion and followed her Paralympic campaign on August 29 with a surprising upset against Rio 2016 Paralympic Champion Zhou Jiamin of China in the first round of elimination.
On finals day, she beat Turkey’s Oznur Cure (3), 143-140, in the second round and then China’s Rio 2016 silver medallist Lin Yueshan (6) with a perfect 10 in a single-arrow shoot-off in the quarters to put herself into the final four.
But Mariana wanted more.
The 19-year-old upset second seed and London 2012 bronze medallist Stepanida Artakhinova, 142-141, in the semis.
Having make the gold medal match, it was clear Mariana had already secured a remarkable medal in Chile’s Paralympic history – she is, after all, the first archer from the country to compete at the Games.
In the final, the pair was tied from the start until their ninth arrow, when Mariana fell a point behind.
Phoebe had increased the advantage to three by the end of the fourth, leading 108-105.
With just three arrows left to shoot, Mariana tightened her group in the target, shooting 28 points and a perfect 10 with her last arrow. But Phoebe had built too much of a lead, shooting just enough to secure the Paralympic Champion title, 134-133.
“Even before the quarterfinals, I was happy. All the things that happened after were like winning experiences, winning beautiful moments. I feel like a winner,” added Mariana.
Mariana is now not only Chile’s first ever para archer at the Games but the nation’s first ever Paralympic archery medallist and at just 19 years of age.
Maria Andrea Virgilio of Italy took the bronze.