Castro impresses at international opener in Guatemala City

Daniel Castro shoots during finals at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

“This is my time,” Daniel Castro said prior to the recurve men’s final four at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup, and for a moment it looked as if he’d be proved correct. 

The Spaniard beat Steve Wijler of the Netherlands in a tiebreak in Guatemala City to advance to the title match against India’s Atanu Das, and step just one match away from a second top prize after helping Spain to its first recurve men’s team gold medal in the 15-year history of the circuit earlier in the day.

After defeating the world bronze medallist and world number four, Castro appeared undaunted by the moment as he continued his excellent return to the international circuit.

“They are three great archers, but in the end, it doesn’t matter who I'm shooting against,” Castro said. “I just need to do my job, and the outcome will be whatever it will be.”

The 13th seed after qualification with a score of 666 points, Castro pushed eventual champion Das to the brink in the gold medal match, giving the Rio Olympian a scare at the Sports Complex Los Arcos. 

Castro held the lead after three sets with a 4-2 advantage, the extent of his abilities on full display on the world stage, before Das flicked a switch to respond with four unanswered points  closing with a 29 and a 30 – to put the match out of reach. The Spanish archer finished with silver in his international debut.

“I’m very proud of the work I’ve done during this year,” Castro said. "In the end, things worked out well. I was a bit desperate, but I understand that with work and sacrifice, good things happen.”

Spain's recurve men's team celebrates during the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

Castro is one of those archers whom the pandemic, in a way, benefited.

After shooting for Spain on the world stage in 2019, he did not qualify for the team in 2020. With one year of extra practice after the 12 months of cancelled sporting events, he’s now a core member of a squad that will attempt to qualify a full slate of quota places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Spain’s chances are looking more likely after the impressive showing in Guatemala City. Miguel Alvarino Garcia, Pablo Acha and Castro beat the top-seeded USA, 6-2, in the recurve men’s team final, sweeping the first two sets to take a 4-0 lead they never relinquished. Acha delivered the winning 10 but it was set up by dominant arrows from his teammates.

Castro leaves Guatemala City with a gold medal, a silver medal and valuable points to bolster his odds at earning an invitational to the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final at the end of the year.

Winner Das, of course, is now automatically qualified.

The runner-up also gains a bounty of well-deserved confidence as he looks to build on this early success in his delayed sophomore season on the international circuit.

It feels great – it’s the payoff for a season that has been good to me so far, that I have worked for and it makes me very thankful," Castro said. “The pandemic gave me the chance to get better. I used the opportunity to its maximum and things are working out.”