I was home for a total of 2.5 days after Gator Cup before hopping on a plane to China. I made the decision earlier this year to skip Redding, unlike some of my other teammates. As much as I really wanted revenge from last year, when my bow didn’t arrive, I knew I couldn’t afford arriving in China just before the start of qualification (with no practice) when one of my goals for the season is to qualify for the World Cup finals.
I was lucky and had a relatively “easy” travel plan to get to China; I flew out of Providence and just had one 2 hour layover in Detroit. Much like it had in Florida, the humidity in China hit me the moment I stepped off the plane. It was about a 30 minute bus ride to the hotel, and then I had the rest of the afternoon/evening to find ways to occupy myself so I didn’t fall asleep. Most of the team arrived around dinner time. With unofficial practice the next morning and everyone tired from travel, we all headed to bed pretty early.
Practice this first day went surprisingly well for me. I felt good and scored well, so I was able to call it quits at lunch time and head back to the hotel. With nothing to do all afternoon, we made our first (of many trips) to the market, about a mile walk each way.
Official practice the next day did not go as well. I struggled. I felt tired and my shot timing just wasn’t what it normally was. I decided not to try to shoot too much and just take it easy since qualification was the next day. That night, the rest of team USA (those that had gone to Redding) showed up at the hotel WITH all of their luggage!
Wednesday was qualification for all groups, with the recurve men and compound women in the morning and the other two groups in the afternoon. Overall, I shot well throughout qualification, but I was disappointed bc I felt like I still left a lot of points on the table. I shot just one point lower than gator cup and 2 points off my personal best, but I knew it COULD have been a serious personal best if I wouldn’t have had lots of little dumb mistakes throughout the round. The 694 I shot placed me in 4th place, which meant I’d get an auto bid into the 1/16, so overall I was happy with where I was. I was also the top qualifying US women, which meant I would get to shoot mixed team later that evening.
The bad news is that meant I had to sit around at the field all day while the men’s compound shot, just waiting to shoot mixed team. I am all for supporting my teammates, however, to then have to shoot again after is tough for me. I tried to relax as much as possible throughout the afternoon, but by the time we began mixed team (around 5:30pm), I was beat. I had been at the field ALL day and my body still wasn’t fully adjusted to the time change. I really tried to mentally focus and get my head in the match, but I struggled. I felt like my shots were good, but looking back I think they just weren’t my usual strong shots, due to fatigue. Unfortunately, I shot only one 10 throughout the match, and we lost to the #16 seed (we were the #1) in the very first round. I felt like I let the entire US team down, as mixed team is always a place we expect to bring home a medal.
The next day was individual eliminations. I was at the field in the morning to support team USA, but bc of my byes, I would not be shooting my first match until around 2:30pm. After some delays on the field, I actually didn’t start my first match until around 3:15. I was feeling good, shot well and moved past a good friend. This matched me up against one of the Mexican archers. I had one bad end, but I was able to hold everything together and take that match as well. Now it was time for me to shoot against another Mexican archer in the quarter finals. Winning this match meant you were guaranteed to shoot for a medal on Saturday. She opened up strong and I struggled off the bat. I could feel myself fading energy wise, but I tried to fight through it. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have it, and for the first time all year I can say I lost the match. I didn’t get beat, I beat myself. I shot a terrible 139, the lowest score on the field, giving me 8th place overall.
Once again I was frustrated and disappointed, but I tried to focus on the positives, knowing this gave me solid points for World Cup finals, one of my big goals for the season. I also learned that I need to better manage my time at the field. If I am going to be there all day, like I was those two days, I need to figure out my food schedule in advance. Just like a marathon runner needs to manage their nutrition throughout the race, I need to re-evaluate mine, so I can compete at my best.
One thing I love about international competitions is meeting people from other countries. I’ve made some great friends over the past year and a half from places I’d never even met someone from previously. I want to give a shout out to Lou Redman, who was casually talking with me in the practice range. When I learned she was from Australia, I got excited, since that brings me back to some of my greatest hs memories (crashing a bike on the gold coast and flying home with a busted knee!). What was really cool about Lou, however, wasn’t that she was from one of my favorite places on earth. After we had been chatting awhile, she got kind of quiet before explaining that she reads this blog and she and her club mates were big fans of mine.
Throughout the week, I got the opportunity to talk with Lou more. It was during our final chat, at the hotel, that I had a flashback moment. She was worried that she had come across as a “crazy stalker” taking photos and videos and trying to learn as much as she can. This reminded me of my first trip to Lancaster. I remember simply being in awe the entire weekend. I was around all the pros who I had watched on youtube. I asked them all a bunch of stupid questions, I went to every seminar, and yes I have about 500 photos and videos from Sunday’s shootdowns…just ask Emily Veyna, she remembers! So Lou, keep doing what you are doing, it really works! Never be afraid to ask questions, I know I still am asking people better than me questions at every tournament. This is one of my favorite things about archery; almost everyone out there is willing to help, and we can all learn from each other.
Now back to the competition. Friday meant team round day, and the US’ last chance at making the medal matches on the weekend. The women’s compound was a new team with only 2/4 of us having ever been to an outdoor World Cup before (only one!), and the three of us shooting team round had never shot together before. A big part of team round is learning to shoot together and being a cohesive unit. I know the US women’s compound team is expected to be in the gold medal match, but for our first time together, I suggested the goal of just making a medal match. By doing so, we would get the opportunity to shoot in the finals venue and everyone would gain the experience of how different that really is.
We seemed to work really well as a team on Friday. If someone shot an 8 one end, the other two stepped up and shot 10s. We were talking to one another and reading the wind. As the #6 seed we had no byes, but we easily won our first match, posting the highest score on the field. This gave us the momentum we needed to face a very tough Mexican team. We were fortunate to win that match, securing us a spot in a medal match! We now had to face the VERY HOT Colombian team. They had not only qualified in 2nd, but they have been shooting together for 3 years now and have a lot of experience.
They ran out of time on the first end and had to make a poor shot, giving us an early lead. However, they tied things up in end 2 and took the lead in end 3. I looked at my teammates and reminded them that it wasn’t over until the end. Just shoot our shots and have fun. If we do that then we can be happy knowing we gave it our best shot, regardless of the outcome. We finished with 5/6 arrows in the 10 ring, enough to claim victory. We would be shooting for gold!
After a week of sun, Saturday opened with rain and cloudy skies at the finals venue along the river. We got wet throughout our practice, but we were lucky enough that the rain came to an end, just as the matches began. I knew if we could shoot like the day before, we could win the gold medal. However, with virtually zero wind, we stopped talking to one another. We each shot our shots, but we lost the “team” feel. Malaysia gave us every opportunity in the World to win the match, however, we never took advantage. It was tied going into the last end, and they shot all 9s. This meant if we could all stay in the yellow we would tie, worst case.
Up first, I drew back and focused on just making a strong shot. I was confident it was a 10 when I came off the line, but I was told it was only a 9. Next up was Angela who also shot a 9, leaving it down to Lexi in the anchor position. This is a tough position to be in because you feel all the pressure on you. I think she wanted the 10 to win sooooo bad, that she took a little too much time aiming and ended up shooting an 8. I think all 3 of us were upset after the match, even though we had just won the silver medal. We all knew we could have shot a lot better, so to lose by 1 point was tough. Ultimately, I had to remind myself (and the others) that what we accomplished was a big deal. No one expected anything from us. We beat two great teams and we helped keep the US women the #1 ranked team in the World!
After the awards ceremony we all headed back to the hotel, and then we decided to hit the markets one last time before heading home the next day. Because why would anyone go to China without coming home with a suitcase full of stuff you paid nothing for 🙂
Highlights of the Tournament
-didn’t have to shoot in the infamous Chinese rain!
-manage nutrition better so energy levels where need them during times competing
-99% of places only accept chinese credit cards, so you better have plenty of cash