The beautiful city of Bayamon hosted the Puerto Rico Cup, a World Ranking Event which was used as the first qualifier for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games. The competition was held on March 14-20 with 120 archers from 15 countries.
This was an event with many first times. It was the first time that archers from Jamaica, Bahamas and Bermuda competed at a World Ranking Event. It was also the first time Panama took part in team events at world class tournaments, and the first time these four countries won spots for the Central American and Caribbean Games. Another first time was the application of the 30-second-per-arrow rule at a World Ranking Event.
Despite the gusty winds that blew all along the week, the level of the competition was high. World class archers, including world champion Sara Lopez from Colombia, were present looking to add points to their international ranking and to win important positions for their countries at the 2023 CAC Games.
The first spots for the Games were allocated in the team events. Four teams qualified in each category. Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico got their tickets with full teams to El Salvador, while Guatemala achieved positions with their RM, RW and CM squads. The Dominican Republic grabbed a team slot in the Compound women event.
Colombia dominated the two women’s team events. Their compound ladies, with two of their World Championships gold-medal winning team, defeated a young and very promising squad from Mexico 228-222. El Salvador claimed the bronze. A shoot-off was necessary in the recurve women team match for gold. Colombia and Mexico were tied with the same score of 26 points, but the arrow in the ten-ring of the South Americans was just a few millimeters closer to the center. A historical gold for the Colombians versus the 2021 World Championships silver medallists.
One point was the difference in the compound men gold medal match for Mexico to defeat Guatemala 231-230. The Guatemalans had beaten the laureled Colombian team in the semis also by one point.
The biggest surprise came up in the recurve men team event. Puerto Rico and Guatemala upset top seeded Colombia and Mexico in the semifinals and faced each other for gold. Puerto Rico took the first set, but the Guatemalans won the following three to a 6-2 victory. Colombia claimed the Bronze. A very outstanding performance in this event was delivered by the young team from Bermuda. They forced the Puerto Ricans to a tie in the quarter finals. In the shoot-off, both teams shot 10, 9, 8; with Puerto Rico’s ten-point arrow in the very center. The Bermudans are now a team to watch in the second qualifier in September.
An unexpected upset took place in the recurve mixed team. The Dominican Republic took a 5-3 victory versus Colombia and advanced to the semifinals. They concluded in fourth place when they lost the bronze match versus a more experienced Chilean pair. Mexico overwhelmed Puerto Rico 6-0 to claim Gold.
World Champions Sara Lopez and Daniel Muñoz (Colombia) had a hard battle to fight in the gold match. The Mexican pair formed by young archers Mariana Bernal and Miguel Becerra showed their potential to bring the match to a 154-154 tie at the end of the 16 arrows. In the shoot-off, the experienced Colombians won by a single point.
2021 Compound Junior Archer of the Year Dafne Quintero (MEX) defeated World Number 1 Sara Lopez in the compound final match 144 to 143. This result is a great start for the promising Mexican ahead of the 2022 International season. Andrea Becerra (MEX) took the Bronze.
Seventh seed Rodrigo Olvera from Mexico delivered a magnificent performance with victories over Pan Am Games Champion Roberto Hernandez (ESA), World mixed team Champion Daniel Muñoz (COL), Jean Pizarro (PUR) and Jagdeep Singh from Colombia to win his first World Ranking tournament. Singh took the silver and Douglas Nolasco from El Salvador the Bronze.
As expected, the four Mexican recurve women reached the medal matches. Olympic Medallist Alejandra Valencia lost only one set in her four matches and was crowned as champion. Her youngest teammate Valentina Vazquez ended second, while Ana Vazquez beat Aida Roman for the Bronze.
The last match of the event was in the recurve men category. The local Adrian Muñoz faced off surprising Guatemalan Marco Lopez. After four sets the scoreboard showed 5 points for Muñoz, and 3 for Lopez. With only one arrow to shoot, the Puerto Rican needed a ten to level the set and win the match. The spectators at the stadium watched the arrow as it hit the ten-ring for Muñoz to win gold on home soil. What a great ending for this wonderful competition!
75 positions were allocated for the Central American and Caribbean Games, 12 to El Salvador as the host nation, and 63 based on the results of the event in Bayamon.
The second qualifier will be held in Santo Domingo on September 4-11, 2022.