After a weekend in France for the 3rd leg of the Indoor World Cup circuit, it was time for me to head to Italy for the Italian Challenge. I arrived Monday afternoon in Bologna and got a ride down to Rimini by some of the organizers. The hotel I was staying at was right on the ocean, BUT it was winter and the off-season. Lunches and dinners consisted of some combination of pizza, pasta or seafood, and I even managed to get gelato one day for dessert!
The tournament started on Friday, so because all the other international participants lived in Europe, they all arrived on Thursday evening. This meant I had 4 full days of getting “real” work done since I have to work when I travel. We had a late dinner, bc that’s what they do in Italy, and we all woke up early to head to the field for qualification.
We were given a little over an hour to practice/warmup, then we had a 1/2 hour break, followed by the qualification round. I started on fire, scoring 30s in both my official practice ends and the opening end of scoring. I then dropped a point in end 2 and 3 before going on a 30 run. I felt great and everything seemed to be dialed with my equipment. After 6 straight ends of 30s (just like in Nimes), I decided to shoot another 29 to close out the half. This tied my PR that I had set in Nimes of a 297, but more importantly, my target was the best looking target I’ve ever shot (all 3 that were out were JUST out).
We had a 15 minute break and started the second half around 4:45pm. I was still feeling good until the 2nd end. All of a sudden, I felt like I ran out of gas. Anyone who is familiar with cycling knows the term “bonking,” which is exactly what happened to me. Mentally and physically I was exhausted instantaneously, this was not gradual but boom it hits you. My scores reflected this as just holding the bow up became a chore. Luckily, my friend Inge from the Netherlands pumped me with some candy and caffeine, so I was at least able to finish the round. I ended up with a 290 for a 587 total, which won me my first gold medal of the weekend, as I had qualified first!
As soon as all the awards were given out, we went right into head to head eliminations, and thankfully I was feeling a little better at this point. I easily won my first match, but then I had to face one of Italy’s top females in the semi finals to determine who would go to the bronze and gold medal matches. I had shot with her during qualification, so I knew I had to bring my A game to win. I pulled out the win, which put me into the gold medal match.
I faced a young girl from Italy in the gold medal match. She kept the score close, as there was some adjustment needed going into the finals venue, but I came out on top. It felt great to finally get another win under my belt, after so many 2nd and 3rd places this past year. By winning the women’s compound division of the Italian Challenge, I also would get the opportunity to shoot against the men for a chance at 2000 euros on Sunday.
Saturday was the official Italian National Indoor Championships, so the 7 foreign archers headed out exploring with our fearless leader, Andreas. We saw some beautiful scenery and hit the shopping mall (for the boys, go figure!). We then managed to swindle an “early” dinner around 8pm, so we could be at the field the next day to shoot. Peter Elzinga and I were the only two who were competing, but everyone was hoping to get some good practice in regardless.
We arrived around 10:30, since we had been told matches started at 2:30. This would give us time to set up, shoot a little, eat some lunch, relax and then warmup before our matches. Everything was going well until about 2:15 when we were told we wouldn’t shoot until 3:30, so Peter and I said back down. It soon became clear that 3:30 was a stretch and it would most likely be more like 4:30. We would get up a practice, then find out there was another delay. This continued on and on, until we finally shot our first match at 6:40! At this point it was hard to turn things on as we had been turning on and off for so long (think the boy who cried wolf story).
I don’t say this to make excuses for my poor shooting, but for me its an awareness thing. I need to figure out a way to fix this, so I don’t have issues down the road when something like this happens again. My first match was against the Italian Men’s Compound indoor champion, and if I won against him I would face the winner between the Italian Women’s Compound indoor champion and Peter (Male Italian Challenge winner). My match was the “featured” match meaning we got to shoot in the finals arena and on camera.
I started well, but I couldn’t maintain and quickly fell behind in the match. I ended up losing AND shooting a low score which I HATE doing. I ended up finishing 3rd, so I couldn’t complain but I would have loved to beat the men’s champion, if for no other reason than bc every other woman lost their match, and I would have liked to have seen ONE of us come out on top. In the end I can’t complain with two gold medals and a bronze from this trip. Even though organization was sometimes lacking, the people treated all us foreigners extremely well and tried their best to make sure we had a good trip.
I was very lucky to make it home from Italy, just in time to wash my clothes and head to Vegas!