Cadet record holder Mlinaric promising in senior debut

Amanda Mlinaric, the youngest of all competitors on the field at the fourth stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup held in Berlin, Germany from 8 to 13 August, turned 16 as she travelled to the event.

“I couldn’t celebrate my birthday on Monday because I was in the car all day coming here but probably will when I’ve finished shooting,” she said.

The day before the competition started, Amanda said she was not expecting much of herself in her first World Cup appearance: “I came here to shoot against the world’s famous archers and see how I can do.”

Whatever doubts she had, it seemed to disappear overnight, and Amanda started her ranking round strong, trailing just leader Linda Ochoa-Anderson after 24 arrows. She floated around the top five for most of the 72-arrow round, but dropped to eighth – on 692 points – in the final end, tied with Marcella Tonioli.

“I'm very happy with my qualification round, my second best score this season," Amanda said. “I had a shoot-off for eighth place and unfortunately I lost, but still I'm happy with my result.”

Mlinaric beat Russia’s Diana Tontoeva in her first senior match, in the second round in Berlin. The pair tied at 144 points after the regulation 15 arrows before the young debutant posted a 10 in the shoot-off, to her opponent’s nine, to survive her first elimination pass.

Her next match will see her face Mexico’s Stephanie Salinas.

“I’ve never been anywhere this big, I think it’s impressive,” said Amanda, pointing to the towering Olympic stadium, built for the 1936 Games, that form the background of this qualification venue.

Mlinaric started archery in 2010, after she and her father tried the sport at a museum. She made her continental debut as a cadet in 2015 and was fourth at the European Championships in the age category in March 2017.

A 148-point match in April and 699-point qualification round in June were ratified as world records and persuaded Croatian selectors to give her a chance on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit in Berlin.

It’s a chance that Amanda is grasping with two full hands.

The fourth stage of the 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup runs 8 to 13 August in Berlin, Germany.