Valdez keeping Colombian hopes alive in Guatemala City

Nora Valdez shoots during eliminations at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

Colombia’s internal competition has expanded to the world stage. 

All eyes were on Sara Lopez entering the opening leg of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in 2021. The world number two and reigning Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion had her sights set on a record-sixth circuit trophy, a goal that would become significantly more attainable by automatically booking a ticket for the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in September with victory in Guatemala City.

And if it wasn’t Lopez who represented Colombia in the final four of the compound women's category, Alejandra Usquiano was the candidate most likely to replace her. The two came up together in 2013, and while Lopez has since distanced herself in terms of results, the pair has worked in tandem to make Colombia a constant presence on the podium in team events. 

Both stalwarts, however, are noticeably absent from the quartet of archers who will shoot for individual gold this Saturday at the Sport Complex Los Arcos. Rather than Lopez or Usquiano, it is 23-year-old Nora Valdez who navigated the elimination rounds on Wednesday afternoon to advance to the final four.

No longer an archer whose value lies in pushing her teammates to shoot their best, Valdez has become an entity in her own right as she makes her first individual finals appearance on the international circuit.

“I’m really happy with this outcome,” Valdez said. “It’s been a hard process because of the COVID restrictions in Colombia – I haven’t been able to shoot much at 50 metres. But I came here confident and these past days of shooting helped me a lot.”

And she arrived in Guatemala fresh off her victory at last month’s 2021 Pan American Championships.

At that event, all three of Colombia’s top compound women made the final four but it was Valdez who emerged victorious in Monterrey, after beating Usquiano in the semifinals and Lopez in the gold medal match. 

Extreme winds blustering at speeds of up to 30kph may have contributed to some seemingly unpredictable results at that event but the weather this week has, so far, been near perfect for archery. And Valdez’s appearance in the final four here in Guatemala City only solidifies her as a formidable presence who is on similar footing as her more established teammates. 

Seeded 10th after the qualification round with a score of 693, Valdez defeated former world number two Linda Ochoa-Anderson of the USA in the second round, 145-144, and Mexico’s Margarita Valencia, 145-142, to reach the semifinals.

“I feel proud to be representing Colombia and to make it into the final four,” Valdez said. “At the same time, I’m sad my teammates couldn’t. But I know they will be supporting me. I’ll stick to that thought and find the strength to represent them properly.”

Her path to the gold doesn't get any easier from here.

Valdez will face world number one Alexis Ruiz in the semifinals on Saturday. Denmark’s Tanja Gellenthien and Ruiz’s USA teammate Savannah Vanderwier sit on the other side of the compound women’s bracket. 

Regardless of the outcome, Valdez will play a pivotal role in Colombia’s efforts at a team title later this week. She was a member, with Lopez and Usquiano, of the gold-medal-winning squad at the world championships in 2017. Valdez’s ascension to the ranks of contender, rather than solid third, could push the South American country ahead of the USA as the team to beat.

The winners in Guatemala City will book the first tickets to this year’s Hyundai Archery World Cup Final. The deciding matches will be broadcast live on Saturday afternoon with international streaming in certain territories.

Final fours

Archers are listed in match order, with seed in brackets. The first two archers face each other in the first semifinal, the second two in the second semifinal.

Compound men

Compound women