A southeast Iowa man who was born without arms left Wednesday for London where he’ll compete in the Paralympic Games as an archer. Matt Stutzman of Fairfield holds the bow with his right foot and fires the arrow with a slight movement of his jaw.
Stutzman got his first bow at age 16, doing odd jobs to pay for it, and someone stole the bow. He took up archery again about two-and-a-half years ago and set the goal of reaching the Paralympic Games. While he’d love to claim a gold medal in London, Stutzman says he knows this competition is about much more than who wins.
“It’s no longer about me any more,” he says. “It’s about Fairfield, it’s about the family and people who said that I can do this and people who’ve encouraged me. If I can just represent Fairfield and Iowa and the United States as I know how and everybody’s proud of me, that’s more important than winning a medal.”
Stutzman flew out of Des Moines with five of his family members, including his wife and his parents. He says it was a challenging road to make the U.S. Paralympic team. To make the team, the best in the U.S. take part in a three-day tournament and only the top two competitors are taken to London.
He did very well in the qualifying, placing first and missing a world’s record by one point. Stutzman plans to be at the opening ceremonies for the Paralympics next week, with his competition starting August 30th, and his first shot at a gold medal match coming on Labor Day.
The Paralympic Games are an international multi-sport event where athletes with physical disabilities compete — running August 29th through September 9th.
By Steve Smith, KMCD, Fairfield