CHICAGO — The sport of archery requires precision, strength and accuracy. But even more so, it demands heart.
Heart is something every athlete brought this week when Chicago hosted its first-ever para archery competition, Behind the Bow.
Para athletes from more than 10 countries descended on the city’s Dunbar Park Field.
Paralyzed from the chest down, Andre Shelby has been shooting for nearly a decade and won gold at the Paralympics in both Rio and Toronto.
“It’s almost like a rehab, a continuous rehab because you’re constantly learning,” Shelby said. “It just gives you a drive and sense of worth almost.”
The event is what he and everyone else on the line needs to qualify for Paris next summer.
Keira Cromwell, a 17-year-old from Indiana, was inspired by another girl with a bow.
“My love of archery actually began when the movie ‘Brave’ came out, the Disney movie,” she said. “I saw it in theater and I just fell in love with Merida.”
From that moment, when she wasn’t in a hospital or physical therapy treating her legs, Cromwell had a bow in her arms.
“It gives me a sense of calmness when I compete and practice,” she said.
By days end, when every last arrow was pulled and tallied Shelby and Cromwell made the cut and qualified to continue competing internationally.