Ognjen Nedeljkovic breaks Serbian record to beat Schloesser to top Minsk seed

21 June 2019
Minsk, Belarus
It was an incredible major event debut for the 26-year-old world number 144.

Serbia’s Ognjen Nedeljkovic qualified top of the compound men in Minsk as Gabriela Bayardo led the recurve women’s ranking round at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus.

Ognjen’s score of 708 points was a personal best and new Serbian record by 10 points.

“I had a good feeling about today. My coach Milijko helped with that. I train a lot and maybe that helped,” he said. “Of course, I feel the pressure. I don’t know men who don’t feel the pressure. The pressure doesn’t take me, I take him.”

Nedljkovic, who won a world ranking event earlier this year, surprisingly qualified ahead of world number one Mike Schloesser, who scored 707 points. Mario Vavro was third on 702.

“We are all human. We can lose, we can win, we can celebrate, we can cry – all of it,” said Ognjen. “What will happen this week? We will see. But I will hunt for gold. This is a great day for me, my country and my coach.”

The 708 is, of course, a European Games record, too, as it is the first time a compound competition has been included at the event.

In the recurve women’s event, Gabriela Bayardo scored top with 666, four points up on Ksenia Perova of Russia. The home nation’s top female archer Karyna Kazlouskaya was third with 654.

“Everyone is asking me ‘didn’t you go to the Pan American Games before’, and I was like no, no, no. These are my Pan American Games, on the other side of the world,” said Bayardo, who was born in Mexico and relocated to the Netherlands a couple of years ago. 

“I just wanna shoot good. I feel like the conditions are not that easy to shoot. I just wanna focus on doing my thing and get strong shots away. Not worried about the rest.”

Like their teammates who shot in the morning session, the German recurve women’s team was forced to borrow bows to qualify. Their equipment has not arrived from the airport.

“This is something I can’t change. I have some really good friends in the world who gave us some equipment,” said Lisa Unruh. “For example, the British team gave us a lot and I am really thankful. We had one hour to learn the bow, how it feels.”

Lisa has another task on this opening day of competition. She will be the flagbearer for Germany at the opening ceremony. She was only asked a week ago, while the squad was at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships in the Netherlands.

“I was surprised, I didn’t expect that. I am really proud and it is an honour for me to represent my team and my country,” she said.

The archery competitions at the 2019 European Games take place on 21-27 June in Minsk, Belarus.