There were 4 of us this year that shot both Redding and the first two World Cups. As soon as the tournament was over, I drove to the airport to catch the red-eye to Atlanta. From there I met up with the others and we flew straight to Medellin. We arrived Monday evening, with practice the next morning. After all the rain we had had in Redding, I don’t think any of us were excited for the daily forecast of rain for the week in Colombia.
Practice day was a complete rain fest. Some of my teammates decided to sit the day out, staying dry and catching up on some sleep in their hotel room. The rest of us battled the weather and checked our equipment to make sure we were ready for the tournament. I shot enough to get warmed up, but I definitely didn’t shoot as much as usual both due to the weather and the fact that my arrow count was down with being on the road the last few weeks.
Qualification I got to shoot on a bale with a girl from India, Sara Lopez and Marcella Tonioli. The four of us had fun and kept things light throughout the round. I managed to keep up with Sara for 4 ends before she began to pull away from me. At the half, she had shot a 355 to my 352. I was content with my score, but I knew I had thrown away a point or two there (I shot an 8 in end 5 AND 6!). In the second half, I felt like I kept getting lazy. I don’t know if it was me being tired or just having trouble staying 100% focused, but I would shoot four Xs (or 10s) and then I’d drop 9s on the last two arrows. I did this so much that my score for the second half was only a 348. Now in the past I would have been thrilled to shoot a 698. In fact, it was my second highest qualification score, however, I KNEW I could have shot a lot better and I’d given away a lot of points.
In the end, I qualified 2nd behind Sara, but a whopping 12 points behind her! I truly believe now I can shoot the scores she and the men do, I just have to put it into action. After qualifying second in China and finishing in 5th (outside the finals), I had made a goal with Sara that we would meet in the gold medal match in Colombia. I made it a point each night to visualize shooting against her in the finals. Visualizing my individual shots is always something I have struggled with, so I am now working on visualizing specific outcomes and repeating certain phrases. I knew I had a tough road ahead of me, but qualifying in second again, definitely gave me a confidence boost, knowing Sara and I had the brackets aligned so we couldn’t face each other until the gold medal match.
Day 2 was elimination and mixed team day. I slept well the night before and was ready for my job at hand. I had to win 4 matches to meet my goal. First, I was shooting a girl from Switzerland. I took an early lead and never looked back, shooting one of my highest (if not highest) X counts in match play (11). Next up was me teammate, Emily Bee, who was our 2nd highest US qualifier and the only other woman left in competition. The good news was we guaranteed a US woman would move to the ¼ round, but the bad news was one of us had to lose.
I ended up winning, but afterwards, I got really emotional. I really am not sure where this came from other than I knew this was Emily’s first World Cup, and as my teammate I wanted her to do well. I needed to focus on my next match, but for some reason I struggled to get my head back in the game.
I started with a rough 28 the first end (but so did my opponent). In the next end, I had a shot go off way before I was ready, landing in the 7 ring. Usually, I am good at brushing things like this off, but I let it get to me and I got mad. I started thinking…Here I go again, another knocked out in the ¼ round. And this time I won’t even finish 5th, I’ll be dead last in 8th because I’ll have the lowest score. Luckily for me, I had friends and teammates behind me that encouraged me and slapped me around a little, yelling at me to get my head back in the game and shoot. I was down 3 points, but they all knew I could come back from that, even if I didn’t believe.
The next end we tied, as I shot a miserable 9,9,9 struggling to get back to shooting my shot. At that point I finally listened to those supporting me and I walked up to the line and just pounded out my last two ends. Luckily for me, they were all right and this was enough to take the lead and win the match by 2. This meant I was guaranteed a spot shooting in the finals on Saturday, but I still had one more match to win before I could reach my goal of shooting for gold.
Next I had to shoot against the #3 qualifier, Sarah from Denmark. She just happened to win the silver medal in China and has been on a hot streak lately. I knew it would be a close match, so no more fooling around on my part. I had to be game on from the first arrow. We battled back and forth most of the match, but I pulled out the win in the end, by a single point. I was happy because with the exception of one match I had shot very consistent all day, with solid scores and quality shots. Also, Sara had won all her matches, meaning we would in fact be shooting against each other in the gold medal match!
Mixed team was that afternoon. Alex and I once again qualified first, and we managed to win our first match this time. It was awesome for me because I’ve really struggled with mixed team, even becoming a joke within the compound team about the # of 10s I shoot in these matches (previous avg was 1). I asked to shoot two arrows at a time which seemed to work, as I finally shot 10s in my match, which got the team cheering along! Next match (against Italy) was a close one, going to a shootoff. Each team member shoots one arrow and the winner is decided by score unless there is a tie, then it is the team with the arrow closest to the center. In the end we lost, but we still would get to shoot for a medal on Saturday (just bronze instead of gold).
Team day was Friday, and I got to shoot with Emily and Dahlia. We shot a great match with a score of 233, which was not only the highest score on the women’s field, but the men’s also. The biggest thing I noticed is we all had fun, were relaxed and shot well because of that. Great teamwork all around put us into the gold medal final against Colombia. That meant I’d be going for 2 golds and 1 bronze the next day on compound Saturday!
The last time I went for a medal in all three events was in Poland last season. I was going for 3 bronze medals, and the weather was probably the hottest weather I’ve ever shot in during finals day. There was no shade for archers who were there all day, and they ran out of water for us around lunchtime. This meant instead of it being an advantage to shoot in 3 events, it instead was actually a negative, so I couldn’t wait for a do over in Colombia.
Women’s team was the second match of the morning. We rushed around trying to find where competitors were supposed to practice and set up our bows before getting called to staging. It was both Emily and Dahlia’s first time shooting in a senior finals venue, but they both had shot as juniors on the big stage. We communicated well as a team during the match, but it just wasn’t our day against the home team. We walked away with a silver medal which can feel disappointing, but I knew we all learned something during that match, and I was happy I was personally getting better at shooting to my potential in these settings.
After lunch it was time for Mixed Team and as the bronze medal match, Alex and I were up first. It was a tight match, tied for the first two ends. Both us and France seemed to try to give it away, but in the end they found the middle one extra time and won by a point. It was a hard loss because I knew that meant I still wouldn’t walk away from a world cup with 3 medals (twice it’s been 2), but I had to forget about it quickly so I could focus on my individual match against Sara.
I envisioned this match so many times in my head that it is hard for me to even write about it still. I can honestly say it was the most intense/most exciting, yet most fun I’ve ever had in archery, even though I lost. If you haven’t watched the match, I highly suggest watching it, click here (fast-forward to around 59 minutes). I’ve always felt kind of blah and too relaxed in finals matches, but this one I could feel the energy all around me. I felt the home crowd pulling for her, and I felt my teammates and friends getting excited as I shot 10s.
This was by far my best finals match in my career (outdoor at least). I shot like ME, and with the exception of the last arrow of the match (I just couldn’t get the shot to go off!), I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’m happy with my shoot off arrow, even though it was just out of the X ring and hers was just in, giving her the win. Would I have loved to win the match, of course! Did I have a rush of emotions after the match ended, yes! However, I can walk away with my head up, knowing I put up a great fight against the #1 ranked archer in the world.
Overall, Team USA had a great tournament with Brady and the men’s compound team winning gold, me, Reo and the women’s compound team winning silver, and the women’s recurve team and compound mixed team finishing 4th. For me personally, this tournament moved me back to #2 ranked in the World AND clinched me a spot in the World Cup Finals for this year!