World Cup stage 2 began just a week and a half after stage 1 concluded. Some teams choose to travel straight to Europe and train there, while those of us from the US, headed home for just long enough to hopefully get over the jet lag from a 12 hour time change, just to hop back on planes for a 7 hour time change. I always struggle when returning home from Asia/Australia area countries, and this time it was no different. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to give my body the needed time to rest, as I had work to catch up on, with not being able to bring my laptop to China.
I headed to Turkey with a head cold, which is always fun when flying. And of course, this trip I had 3 layovers, which meant 4 landings to deal with. My ears did not want to pop, which caused some serious pain behind my left eyebrow, but I survived all of my flights, as did my luggage.
Unofficial practice was held on a separate field from where we would be competing. There were not enough targets for everyone, so it was crowded and HOT! I chose to only practice during the am session, as I didn’t want to head back out to deal with that again in the afternoon. I was tired the next day during official practice, but I had felt the same way on day 2 in China, so I wasn’t too concerned. I focused on a few key things I had been working on in practice, and then headed back to the hotel to get some work done since men’s compound got the field in the afternoon.
Qualification day I woke up feeling a little better after a full night’s sleep, and I was excited for the day. We began the day with some rain, nothing too bad, but just enough to get you wet! I didn’t shoot a single 60 my first half, but I did set a new 36 arrow pb with a 352! Right as we were finishing up the first half, I could tell my breathing was very labored. At first I just chalked it up to the fact that it was getting hot and humid out as the sun came up, and the rain clouds disappeared. However, after the 10 minute break between halfs, I felt miserable and didn’t want to shoot another 36 arrows.
I went up to the line and tried to shoot my normal shots, but it was a struggle. I felt like I couldn’t get a deep breath, and I was getting exhausted just walking to the target to pull arrows. As the round went on, it took everything I had to finish. I was weak and slightly dizzy and having trouble breathing. Luckily, I was able to finish (even if it wasn’t pretty), and I thankfully was one point above the shootoff (tying my personal best for 72 arrows), so I didn’t have to shoot another arrow. Instead I went to see the team doctor and lay down. He took all my vitals, and I had an elevated pulse and a fever, so I was given the option of trying to “rest” my way through it or going to the hospital to get some medicine.
I wasn’t keen on going to the hospital in a foreign country, and I didn’t want to let me teammates down, so I decided to go back to the hotel and sleep, so hopefully I could be ready for mixed team that evening. If I wasn’t feeling any better after a nap, I would decline my spot and head to the hospital. I definitely felt better, at least my breathing, after a few hours of sleep, so I headed back to the field for mixed team. I quickly realized, however, that my strength still wasn’t there, so I warned Reo (my partner for mixed team) that I would need to take a couple extra seconds to try to settle the bow, as it was a bit of a struggle.
Once again we were the number 1 seed, and once again we got a tough first round opponent. The french closed the final end shooting 4 Xs, giving them the victory over us. At this point, I worried that i had made the wrong decision by choosing to shoot, and I had let the team down. I knew I couldn’t dwell on that because I needed to get to bed, so I could hopefully be better the next day for individual eliminations.
Thankfully, I had finished in the top 8 again (qualified 4th), which gave me a bye clear until the 1/16th round. This meant I didn’t have to shoot until around 3pm, and I took advantage of that sleeping in until 11am (something I NEVER do)! Overall, I didn’t feel too bad, but I was definitely weak. Holding steady on the target was definitely a challenge, and I started questioning whether I should take weight off my bow, but I didn’t know if that would just make it worse and with only 3 ends of practice, I didn’t have time to figure it out.
My first match was a struggle on my end, but I was lucky enough to tie after 15 arrows were shot. This put me into a shootoff with my opponent from South Africa. I usually love these, as I have not lost one yet, however, I was really worried that today was the day my streak would come to an end. I got some luck from a couple of friends, and I tried to take my time and shoot a good shot. It broke a little low, and I walked off the line thinking I lost the shootoff. Luckily my low 10 was good enough, bc she had shot a 9.
I moved on to face a young girl from Russia. We battled back and forth the entire match, tied going into the final end. Every end in this match, I was shooting one arrow, taking a break, shooting another, taking a break, etc as I found my first arrow was always my strongest. The last end I opened with an X. I told myself ok, 2 more just like that. Next one was a 9, and my final arrow was an 8…I just had nothing left. She shot a 30, earning the win and I was done. Usually I hate losing, but in this case I was so happy that I could rest and didn’t have to try to pick up my bow again for another 15 arrows.
I got another good night’s sleep and then headed to the field early the next morning for team rounds. I was definitely on the uphill swing at this point, and I shot the best I’ve ever shot in team round. I don’t know why I seem to struggle so much in the one arrow at a time format of team rounds, but it’s something I’m really trying to work on. So while we lost to a very tough Russian team in the first round, I could walk away feeling pretty good about things.
Finals saw our men’s compound team shooting for gold, men’s recurve shooting for bronze (same as our women’s teams in China) and both men’s individual bronze medal matches were all american matches. At the end of the two finals days, the US walked away with a gold, 2 bronze and 3 fourth place finishes, a definite improvement on team medals from China, though still a long way from our goals as a country.
At this point I want to be very clear, I am not sharing my story about being sick to make excuses or ask for sympathy. In fact, I’m sharing this with all of you for two reasons. First, after attending two World Cups, two USATs and Versus in a 2 month period, I have a whole new respect for the archers who have stayed at the top for many years. It is one thing to shoot well at home or even at national tournaments, but to travel the globe, dealing with different time zones and lack of sleep and still perform at the top-level day after day, I applaud you.
And second, I bring this up to stress how important cross training and being physically active is to archery. Yes, ANYONE can do archery, and yes we don’t have to be in amazing physical shape to shoot top scores. However, I will speak from experience when you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t compete at your 100%. Your body needs adequate rest, proper nutrition and physical activity to perform at its best. I know this is the area I’ve been slacking in since going back to work. With limited time, I’ve neglected taking care of my body at the level I need to, and I paid for it this past week in Turkey. Let this be a lesson for all of you!