My first world championships
I’ve been back in the US for a day and a half now, and I’m finally feeling rested and back in the swing of things. Not only was this trip my first world championships, but it was also my longest span away from home (for archery).
The trip started with me shooting indoor nationals in MA. This probably wasn’t the smartest idea I’ve ever had, as I felt distracted and didn’t shoot that great, but it was my only real option if I wanted to shoot indoor nationals this year. After day 2 of nationals, it was time to drive to Boston and hop on a plane.
Travel went smoothly, we met up with some teammates in Amsterdam, and arrived in France around lunchtime on Sunday. Unfortunately, nothing is open on Sundays there, so we did a lot of wandering around with nothing to do. I think all of us were looking forward to shooting our bows the next day, as we were all up early and ready to go as soon as the practice range opened. The athlete bus system wasn’t running smoothly, and after over an hour of waiting around we finally got to the practice facility, only to discover we would be shooting into plywood…not the best thing for our competition arrows. Many of us just took a couple shots to just make sure everything was still in tact before heading back to the hotel.
Dinners are served VERY late in France, so we all had tons of time to kill before we could eat. A group of us decided to hit up the grocery store, where some of us decided it was time to take a nap.
By dinner time, all of team USA had arrived, and you could feel the nerves and excitement of everyone in the group. Tomorrow was official practice day, and for many of us, our first chance to practice team rounds.
Practice for me was pretty usual, with me not having a great practice. It just felt good to shoot my bow, after a couple days off, and I also had fun practicing the team round with Erika and Christie. Juniors were shooting their qualification the next morning, while we wouldn’t be until afternoon.
Qualification day was beyond frustrating for me. I knew I was making good shots, yet I was spraying the target, only getting 10s if I was lucky enough to nick a line here or there. I went through a mental checklist of my equipment, but I couldn’t find anything lose or broken. I then thought maybe it was my arrow rest, but my teammates assured me, my arrows were flying fine and it couldn’t be that. After a very disappointing finish (tied for 10th), I walked toward the practice field, where I ran into a teammate who had been shooting in the other building. After a quick look at my bow, he quickly diagnosed the problem (my rest had moved CONSIDERABLY!) and began to fix it.
That evening, the seniors all cheered on the juniors, as they had their team eliminations. Our boys and girls compound teams both made it through to the gold medal matches, with the girls even setting a world record!
The next morning it was the senior women up first for elimination rounds. The men were after us, but all three of them were there to support us and call arrows as our coaches. I was feeling confident in my equipment and ready to make a run from my low seed. We only ended up with 2 ends of practice and I could tell my shot felt off. I tried to mentally get the feeling of a good shot, but I just didn’t have enough time and started my match very rocky and when I finally did get it together, my opponent drilled a 30 to win the match. Saying I was upset would be an understatement, since my hopes of an individual medal were now gone. Even though I wanted to support my teammates who were still in it, I knew I needed to go to the practice range to work things out.
After some therapeutic shooting, I felt much better and returned in time to cheer on our men and last remaining woman. There were some great battles and we finished up with 3/6 making it to the semi finals. We cheered on our jrs during the afternoon and that evening, we had our first round of team matches. We sailed through our match, finishing just one point shy of the current world record, and the men clinched their spot as well.
Friday meant medal matches for the jrs and semis for the adults. My team would face South Africa, who had upset Russia the night before, and we would get to shoot in the same arena as the finals. Our match wasn’t quite as smooth as the day before, but we took another solid win and advanced to the gold medal finals. The men’s team tied their previous world record (perfect score!), also advancing for a shot at gold.
By Saturday, I think we were all getting a little tired from a long week, with very little shooting (3 days in a row of just 1 match). After some issues going from the practice range to the finals venue the day before, I decided to leave my sight alone today. I had been centered in the practice range, but then hit right during finals, so I figured if I was hitting left in the practice range, that meant I would be centered during the finals. There was some discussion over this with my teammates and just before going out, it was determined that I wasn’t leveling my bow properly.
Talk about a total freak out moment. I was about to go shoot for gold, and I was being told I was shooting incorrectly! I knew I had to just make a good first shot out there, and I could always move my sight if needed. However, upon drawing back for the first time, I discovered they had added a new spotlight which bounced right off my sight, causing my level to turn black. This in turn caused me to panic and just rip off a shot. Luckily, we were still up on Mexico through 2 ends, but then they decided to turn up the heat. They ended up shooting eleven 10s in a row, and we couldn’t hold the lead, losing by 1 point in the end.
I knew I hadn’t shot well, so the silver was hard to swallow. Coming off the floor I felt all the emotions of the week getting to me. As I made my way to my case to pack my equipment (no more shooting for me while in France), I was stopped by the drug testing officials, as I had been randomly selected to go through the process. I was happy to see they were actively testing athletes, but at the same time I was bummed at being selected because I was tired and just wanted to relax (peeing in a cup with someone watching you is not my definition of relaxation). Luckily my sample was accepted on the first try, and I was able to catch the end of the men’s match, which they won!
Since only athletes still actively competing were allowed in the practice range on Sunday, my bow stayed packed up, and I spent the day cheering on teammates going for either bronze or gold. I managed to sneak out over the lunch break with friends from the states, and we got a chance to tour the colosseum and enjoy the beautiful day.
In the end, the senior team walked away with a bronze, 3 silvers, and a gold. I think we all were disappointed that the medal count wasn’t higher, and there weren’t more golds, but that’s the nature of sports. We could, however, celebrate the fact that our jrs also collected a total of 5 medals, so the future here in the US is looking bright!