Five archers who impressed at the first stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup
The 16th season of the Hyundai Archery World Cup got underway with stage one concluding in Antalya on Sunday.
In the end, 340 archers from 47 countries across Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania competed in Turkey as the first steps were taken on the path to Hyundai Archery World Cup Final glory and a share of the circuit’s biggest-ever prize fund.
Miguel Alvarino Garcia, the winner of the tour in 2015, returned to top form and won the recurve men’s individual title, while compound men’s world number one Mike Schloesser was the only reigning individual circuit champion in Antalya to win the season opener. The other two who competed in Antalya – Brady Ellison and Sara Lopez – also won medals but in their respective mixed team events.
Here are the five archers who we think impressed most in Antalya.
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“I came here thinking I could at least make one medal match, but with three medals and two of them golds, I have no words,” said Great Britain’s world number five Bryony Pitman.
Pitman was the story of Antalya and ensured she reached that elite level in Turkey thanks to a recurve women’s team and individual gold, plus a mixed team silver with Alex Wise. And with her warm, wide smile and customary double-wave acknowledgement every time she was introduced in the finals arena next to the beach, Pitman was the epitome of emotion; clearly enjoying herself and just about holding back the tears when she saw off challenger Laura van der Winkel in the individual final.
Archery is about emotion and Pitman delivered that – plus the arrows, when they mattered, to back it up.
After Pitman, let's talk about Laura van der Winkel. Could we have already seen the next big Netherlands star on the world stage?
In just her third-ever World Cup appearance, she won silver and very nearly took gold, leading 4-2 going into the fourth set against Pitman, but the Brit took her to that one-arrow tie-break and shot a better eight to win. Despite that heart-breaking loss for van der Winkel, we can expect a lot more to come from the Dutch world number 27, even though she surprised herself in Turkey with a medal.
“Making the top four was incredible, I didn’t even expect it to happen,” she said. “I’m so proud. I couldn’t have dreamed it when I started the week.”
For the past decade, 16-year-old American recurver Gabi Sasai had dreamed of winning a medal with USA legend Brady Ellison after seeing posters of him at her archery school. In Antalya, that dream became reality when the two joined forces to win bronze in the mixed team event after defeating Spain, 5-3.
“I wouldn’t want to share this success with anyone else,” said Sasai, who also finished eighth in the individual event. “Brady kept me pumped up the entire time and reassured me that I belonged in the crowd of the world’s best.”
You do Gabi, and we look forward to seeing your progress in 2022.
4. Ella Gibson
"She will be a force to be reckoned with over this next year," said Archery GB’s performance director Tom Duggan after the 21-year-old Gibson took compound women's individual gold in Antalya to make it a week to remember for her, and Team GB.
Gibson lived up to the pre-event hype where she had been identified by the legendary Sara Lopez as a rival following her recent breaking of the European record and European indoor champion title. And Antalya was good to her again, following her runners-up spot at the European outdoors last year, with a season-opening stage gold on the Hyundai Archery World Cup.
Seeded fifth after qualification, Gibson took the title by beating a Colombian archer in the final – but it was Lopez’s teammate (and 2013 circuit champion), Alejandra Usquiano, 147-145.
“It’s amazing, I still can’t really believe it if I’m honest,” she said. “It wasn’t in my plans for this year. I was thinking if it happens, great, if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.”
The result was Gibson's first-ever Hyundai Archery World Cup individual stage win and shot her world ranking up from 13th to fifth in a flash.
They say it is tougher to stay at the top than reach the top, but for Mister Perfect, Mike Schloesser, it is all in a day’s work.
Having seeded top in all three stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit last year, he maintained his streak, seeding first in Antalya. The 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion then proceeded to dismantle the remainder of the field one-by-one.
"Against Mike you know you have to hit around 150 and pray a little bit," said his opponent in the final, Adrien Gontier, who succumbed to the Dutchman, 142-148.
He, like the rest of Schloesser’s opponents, will be hoping to find some cracks in the armour of the world number one as the year progresses.
Notable mention: Ukraine
With lots of planning and organisation behind the scenes, eight archers and two coaches from Ukraine competed in Antalya. The squad saw its recurve men’s team of Oleksii Hunbin, Artem Ovchynnikov and Mykhailo Usach finish fourth, with Hunbin and Ivan Kozhokar ending up both in ninth in the recurve individual event, the same as Solomiya Hnyp in the women's.
Even though no medals were won, the delegation has flown its flag on the international stage despite the crisis at home.
“Olympic sport was against war throughout history,” said Hunbin, who competed at Tokyo 2020. “Men and women must be in competition on the field of play, not on the field of war.”
The Turkish Olympic Committee and national archery federation organised accommodation, while World Archery donated flights. Errea provided a new uniform while industry manufacturers have replaced equipment that was left behind when the archers left Ukraine.