Gabriela Bayardo debuts for Netherlands in Salt Lake City

Olympian Gabriela Bayardo made her debut as a member of the Dutch team at the third stage of the 2018 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Salt Lake City in the USA, one year after she moved from her home nation of Mexico to Europe.

“I decided to shoot for the Netherlands because I’m now living there, so it’s easier for me to compete there, while I’m in touch with local people and culture, rather than going back to Mexico every time there’s a selection tournament,” said Gabriela.

Bayardo moved in with partner and Dutch compound pro Mike Schloesser; the pair now live in the Limburg region in the south of the Netherlands.

World Archery rules state that an athlete must take a 12-month break from international tournaments when switching teams; although that doesn’t include the open-entry indoor circuit.

Other famous names to have changed national squads include Khatuna Lorig, shooting in Salt Lake City for the USA, and Natalia Valeeva, who represented the Soviet Union, Unified Team and Moldova before settling in Italy.

“At the beginning it was difficult because changes are not easy but I have adapted very well. Mike has supported me a lot and has made me feel like at home,” said Gabriela. 

“The team has also been very welcoming and ever since I shared my decision to shoot for the Netherlands they have helped and encouraged me to do so.”

The Rio 2016 Olympian, who’s living about two hours away from the national archery centre in Papendal, said she discusses her training plan with the coaches and visits the training facility when asked.

“I feel they trust me and I appreciate it a lot,” said Gabriela. “This team has helped me to look at things from a different perspective. I was used to having a women’s team but here every archer makes up my team.”

As she continues to adapt to her new home, Gabriela shapes up as a huge asset to a nation that hasn’t fielded a strong women’s team for many years.

“I believe that with her in the team we will have an extra help to get to the level we want. The recurve women’s team will go to Berlin and to the Europeans where they’ll have a chance to prove themselves and try to get more funding from the [Dutch Olympic Committee],” said Dutch head coach Ron van der Hoff.

“I’m very happy for her to be back on the field and to have her on the team because of her personality. She’s really nice to have around, she’s always willing to help and I think it will be good for the level of all the ladies in the Netherlands.”

Gabriela’s last medal on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit came in 2016 in Medellin, where she took bronze as part of the Mexican recurve women’s team.

The third stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup takes place in Salt Lake City, USA on 18-24 June.