The World Archery Oceania (WAO) Championships were finally held in Adelaide (AUS) from April 12 to 16, 2023, after having been moved from April 2022 to December 2022, and then moved from Tahiti to Australia. These were the first Continental Championships to be held in the sport since 2018, as the planned event in Fiji in 2020 had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All up there were 82 competitors from six countries – Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands – competing in Recurve, Compound and Barebow divisions. and Under 16, Under 18, Under 21 and Open age groups, using 36 buttresses on the Field of Play.
Day 0 (April 12) saw the Official Opening, with a smoking ceremony performed by a local indigenous elder prior to the usual formalities. Local archery dignitaries were in attendance, and the athletes were welcomed by the WAO Vice President, Didier Gras. The event was declared open by the Governor of South Australia, who is a patron of Archery in that state.
Day 1 consisted of 2 x WA720 rounds, with the morning round being the Ranking Round for the Individual and Mixed Team Matchplay, and the afternoon round added to the morning’s scores made up the World Archery Oceania Target Championships event. Medals were awarded at the completion of the day to the WAO Target Champions.
Day 2 was the South Australian Grand Prix (SAGP), which was free to all WAO competitors and open at cost to others wishing to compete. The SAGP provided an opportunity for the athletes from across the Pacific to practice Individual Matchplay before the WAO championship matches the following day. Almost all WAO athletes availed themselves of this opportunity.
Day 3 was Individual and Mixed Teams Matchplay, up to and including Bronze Medal matches.
On Day 4, the Finals Day, the Gold Medal matches were live-streamed (courtesy of Archery Australia). This was organised so that those categories shooting at 40m, competed first (Individual and Team), followed by those at 50m (Barebow Recurve and Compound) and 60m (U18 Recurve), and then finally at 70m (U21 and Open Recurve athletes). This day went as smoothly as the rest of the event due to detailed planning, good communication with Team Managers and Judges, and an experienced commentator who was familiar with many of the athletes. His commentary was supplemented with background conversation between an Archery Australia staffer and the WAO Treasurer, who was also the Team Manager for Fiji.
Our gratitude goes to Archery Australia and the Local Organising Committee for agreeing to take on this event at very short notice, and for all the hard work and effort that went into the preparation and conduct of the championships. The professionalism and expertise of the Technical Delegate and the Tournament Judges Commission also needs to be commended.