Leading up to World Championships, my practice scores had become very consistent and above what they had been earlier in the year. I knew the weather was going to be less than ideal, with lots of rain predicted for the forecast.
Team USA arrived to Copenhagen in waves. Our recurve team, who had just competed in Pan Ams, arrived first from their training camp in Berlin. The compounders rolled in over the course of Friday and Saturday, with official practice on Sunday.
-This was a day of INTENSE weather. The morning was freezing cold, with rain, while the afternoon had some crazy gusting winds. I think a lot of people shot just “enough” to get warmed up, but not too much to get frustrated with the conditions. I actually shot really well with the wind, and even beat one of my male teammates in our ice cream bet!
-For a variety of reasons, I just wasn’t “feeling it” during qualification. I tried to get motivated, but I struggled to really care as much as I should. Yes, I know that sounds terrible, but that is reality. I think it was a combination of factors including; time of day (we started our 3 ends of practice at 4:30pm), the focus being on the recurve archers trying to get Olympic spots, and a lot of small things that compounded on one another. We had some strong winds (coming from the opposite direction of the day before), and I just had too many arrows that were “just” out to post a solid score. I ended up finishing qualification in 20th, which was my worst rank all year for any tournament. I joked with one of my fellow competitors, “all year I have qualified well, but have not managed to finish eliminations as high, so this time I qualified low, which means I’m going to go and win the whole thing.”
-Tuesday was team OR rounds, and I wasn’t the top qualifying US women (first time since I started intl competitions) which meant I would only being shooting the women’s team (not mixed). This was the first time the three of us shot team together, but luckily all 3 of us have individually shot quite a few team rounds now. We started strong in our first match, so even though the conditions got worse and we started dropping some points, we were more than easily through to the next round.
As the number 4 seed, we were happy to learn the #1 seed had lost in the first round, giving us some breathing room if we could make it through our next match. Unfortunately, all 3 of us had a much tougher time in this match. We were never able to put it together and lost. After a loss by our mixed team as well, we knew the US would have no teams shooting on Saturday in the finals. That meant any chance of a medal would have to come from individuals.
OR Day 1:
-Those archers not in the top 8 had to shoot 2 matched on Wednesday, just to make it to the second day of eliminations. The winds were pretty intense, but I was feeling good and focused on the goal. I knew I had a job to do, and that’s what I did. The windiest ends of the day, I shot a 29, 28 to take an early lead of roughly 10 points. I was able to use the conditions to my advantage (yes, sometimes living where it is ALWAYS windy can pay off) and easily move on to the next day winning both of my matches.
OR Day 2:
-The US compound team ended up only having 3 archers still in the mix after the first day of eliminations. I knew I had a tough road, but I was determined to make it to the top 4, so the US had someone to cheer for come Saturday. I shot strong the first 4 ends of my first match against Danielle Brown, but then I faltered slightly with a 27 to finish. The important part was I was advancing on. This matched me up with a good friend of mine, Linda Ochoa.
In the past, neither of us has shot very well when we have faced each other, so we both looked at each other before the match started and said, “We don’t care who wins, but here is to both of us shooting well.” I was extremely nervous and shaking while I was on the line shooting, but I managed to shot probably the best match of my life (even though it wasn’t a personal best score), with ZERO 9s and won the match.
Unfortunately, this meant I now had to face ANOTHER friend of mine, Toja Cerne. After taking an early lead, Toja then capitalized on a poor end of mine, gaining the lead herself. After all 15 arrows were shot, we had tied. Shootoff! I stepped up and shot what I knew was a great shot, and sure enough it was an X. However, after losing my first ever shootoff with an X at team trials, I knew I couldn’t celebrate yet. She waited for the wind to calm and finally shot her shot. It was a 9, which meant I had just won!
Now I got the chance I had been waiting for. I would be shooting against the World’s #1 ranked female. Last year I shot multiple times against, Erika Jones, who was the top ranked at the time, and I wasn’t able to ever beat her. Since Sara took over the #1 spot, I had never faced her head to head, so I was excited to now get the chance. I knew I had to shoot well against her bc she never leaves a lot of points out there. It was a tight match the entire time, but I was able to walk away with a 1 point victory. Not only did this mean I had just beaten the World’s #1, but it also meant I’d be shooting for Gold on Saturday!!!
-Friday was a rest day for everyone but the handful of recurve archers who were given a second chance at qualifying a spot for their country for the Olympics. I headed to the practice range, but after dealing with some pretty tough conditions, I decided to call it quits and head back to the hotel. At our team meeting that evening I learned my match the next day wouldn’t be until 4:02pm….ughhhh! I knew I would have to find a way to occupy myself and my time, but also stay rested for my match.
-I joined our recurve boys’ team at the practice field just to loosen up in the morning. The beds were sooooo soft at our hotel that I found I woke up many days with some weird pains and I wanted to get all the kinks out before my match that afternoon. I then ate some lunch, and it was time to take the bus over to the finals field. At this point it became a day of hurry up and wait (yep, my favorite thing ever as someone with no patience). After about hour and a half, I was finally allowed on the practice field. I warmed up, tried to watch glimpses of the matches before mine.
The practice field was quite different than the finals venue. The practice field had a much stronger wind (from a different direction), you were in full sun (vs in shade) and you were shooting on a somewhat unsteady platform. I knew this meant I needed to make a good first shot, so I could make any adjustments to my sight necessary right away. Unfortunately for me, my opponent had already shot 2 matches on the finals venue (one being just before our match).
My first shot went off kind of quick, so I knew it was going to be a little high, but it was also right. I didn’t move my sight and should have as my next shot was the same exact amount right as the first. I made an adjustment and hit my 3rd arrow in the 10 ring. This started me down one point after the first end. I wasn’t worried as I knew I’d been down in many of my other matches and had still come out on top. However, in the 3rd end I ended up shooting a 27 (10, 9, 8) to her 30 and at that point the match was decided. She never gave me an opening I could capitalize on, and I lost the match.
I really believed I was going to win this tournament, so it was a tough pill to swallow. I felt like I had let my teammates down, my country and the entire compound world (this was the first Korean compound World title). I knew I should be happy with 2nd, but I wasn’t. Overall, I was most frustrated bc my shots had felt good in the match. I can say there were honestly 2 shots that I would like to have back, but that’s it. I realize this was my first outdoor world championships, so to walk away with any medal was a huge accomplishment, but I HATE LOSING!
-My day started to look up when I was upgraded to business on my flight back to the US (lay flat beds, whooohooo!). Then Monday morning I woke up and found out that I was now the #2 ranked female in the world. At that point I knew I couldn’t dwell on losing, but instead I had to focus on what I did accomplish.
I leave for Poland in a couple days, and I’m now even more ready to get the win there. Poland marks the anniversary of my first outdoor World Cup, where last year I walked away with 2 team gold medals. I missed making the finals individually, however, so I am looking forward to correcting that this year and getting more points for the World Cup finals.