Why podiums are important for Philippines archery

Paul Marton de la Cruz is one of the five archers from the Philippines that travelled to the USA to compete at the third stage of the 2018 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Salt Lake City, as part of a focused programme to prepare the team for the Asian Games that will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia later in 2018.

With more than 15 years of experience in archery, Paul Marton reached the peak of his career to date at the last Asian Games, winning bronze.

“I’m a professional archer. I have my family, we live together in the national archery village in Manila and sometimes I coach a group of four kids but most of my time is all dedicated to archery,” he said.

The Philippines team’s attendance at international tournaments has been increasing in regularity. Although the country is situated in an expensive position, geographically, for travel, the sport of archery has quietly found a foothold in the Pacific – that might just stick.

“Archery in the Philippines is a lot more active now than it used to be,” he said.

“We have active high school archery teams in each of our 17 provinces, and that’s mainly why most of our 400 archers in the country are juniors.”

There’s even a World Cup-style, three-stage circuit that’s helped athletes practise the competition mindset – but there’s plenty of work to do. The nation has less than a handful of dedicated outdoor archery fields.

Nonetheless, as well as establishing a sustainable youth programme, Philippines archery has begun to look outwards – and held the second stage of the 2018 Asia Cup in April, with nearly a 100 archers from 13 countries competing, where the hosts won four medals.

De la Cruz collected two golds, in the individual and mixed team events, and described the feeling of winning at home as “overwhelming”.

“If you are an archer from the Philippines, pursuing an archery career, you really need to qualify for the national team. In our country, all archery gear is expensive, so unless you represent the nation, train full time and show results, is very difficult,” he explained.

Representing his country since 2003, Paul first started with a recurve and then switched to compound in 2014 ahead of Incheon – the Asian Games in which he took the individual bronze medal.

Although there’ll be no podium for him in Salt Lake after falling to Antonio Hidalgo in the first round, Paul’s sights are firmly set on Jakarta and repeating that podium performance from four years ago.

“I know I still have a lot to learn and to achieve with the compound,” he said. “But by winning medals we will be able to encourage others to look out for our sport and help us grow it.”

“Is not just for me. Is something that needs to be done for the entire country.”

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

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