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Yankton Welcomes United States Paralympic Archery Team

The United States Paralympic archery team arrived in Yankton this week to begin final training for competition in London next month, with officials from across the state on hand to welcome them to South Dakota.

The team was met by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and his wife Linda on Tuesday, who wished the archers well and welcomed them to South Dakota.

“It's great that the team came to Yankton,” Daugaard said. “It shows we can be a competitive place for athletes to train.”

Speaking to the athletes Tuesday, Daugaard added the last time he came to the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) facility was before the new renovations were complete, and that he was “astounded” when he saw how nice the new area in the facility was.

“The next step is making this an official Olympic training facility,” he said. “We want to welcome the team to Yankton and best of luck at the Paralympics.”

Yankton Mayor Nancy Wenande was also a part of the ceremony.

“We are blessed to have the team in Yankton,” she said. “We're excited that you are sharing your talents with the rest of us around here.”

Some of the top names in archery are frequent visitors to Yankton because of the many national and international tournaments held in town every summer. Four of the archers who qualified for the Pan American trials last year - which were held in Yankton - are among the six who will represent Team USA at the London Olympics, which start Friday.

In addition, the NFAA facility has the only dedicated indoor 70-meter range in the country.

“There will probably be more of those to come, but this is the first one,” said Bruce Cull, NFAA president.

Cull added that his biggest goal is to become an official Olympic training facility, and the process on that has already begun.

“One of the biggest things we have here has been having these Olympians here,” Cull said. “Athletes want to utilize the facility here, and from our perspective, it couldn't get any better than that.”

He added that when tournaments are hosted in Yankton, there are economic benefits for the entire area because of the additional money archers spend at local businesses.

“The main goal of the Olympians using the facility has been the ability to shoot their equipment in a controlled environment,” Cull said. “When they do have to go outside, their equipment is tuned properly after training indoors.”

He added that having Gov. Daugaard at the facility shows how much the support archery has from state government officials.

Daugaard had high praise for Cull when he addressed the archers.

“Bruce has expanded the ability of the NFAA, which is great for archery,” he said.

The archers on the team hail from across the country, and for many this is their second or third Paralympic games. The team members spoke about how much it means for them to represent the United States at the event and that it is not about medals, but more about the camaraderie that athletes have with each other at the games.

Randi Smith, head coach of the Paralympic team, said she has enjoyed being able to train in Yankton.

“The process for picking facilities wasn't long,” she said. “We wanted to train here because of the indoor shooting range and that way we could get our equipment tuned properly.”

She added that the people in town have been very nice and helpful to her and her team.

“My biggest goal is to help everyone be prepared and do the best they can at the Paralympics,” Smith said.

The team plans on taking a short break after the games, before beginning training for the 2013 archery championships in Bangkok, Thailand.

USA Paralympic Archery roster includes:

• Matt Stutzman, Iowa

• Jerry Shields, Florida

• Lee Ford, Georgia

• Jeff Fabry, California

• Eric Bennett, Arizona

• Russell Wolfe, Oklahoma

• Lewis Denton, Montana