Eowyn Mamalias, 14, trailblazing young generation of Icelandic archers

At just 14 years of age, Eowyn Marie Mamalias is one of the youngest competitors at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus.

This is her first international competition shooting in the senior divisions.

She qualified 16th in the compound women’s competition and faced the number one seed, Toja Ellison, in her first match. Ellison won, 144-131.

“I’ll say I did good. What was I expecting to do against her? To beat her! No, just to do my best,” said Eowyn, laughing.

“It’s been very exciting to see all the athletes. I did want to see Tanja [Jensen] because I knew who she was, and I have shot with two of the Croatian and Estonian girls last year in Italy at the European Youth Cup.”

Eowyn has been shooting for three years, two and a half of those with a compound, and is another archer that found the sport because of archery’s pop culture explosion over the last decade.

“In summer my mum wanted me to go to an ice skating programme. I wanted to do something new. We watched a movie, ‘Brave’. It is like a princess archery movie – and it made me want to try it,” she said.

Archery barely existed in Iceland until 2012.

Coach Gudmundur Orn Gudjonsson, known as Gummi, takes most of the credit for the sport’s expansion since then.

“We now have, per capita, more archers in Iceland than any other Scandinavian country,” he said. “The problem is, we’ve built the foundation of the pyramid, we just haven’t built the rest of it yet. But it’s in the works.”

Since it is a cold country, Iceland’s archery is mostly limited to indoors. There aren’t many outdoor facilities.

“We just need 12 awesome people, and we can beat the world,” said Gummi. He was part of a six-strong Iceland contingent at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch, where he shot both recurve and compound.

Gummi also has his own range in Iceland. The country now boasts over 600 active archers.

Kelea Quinn, a Canadian who is Eowyn’s personal coach in Iceland, was clear about the trailblazing effect her student is having.

“The girls are expanding incredibly because of her. So now we have a group of six compound girls under 21, which is amazing. They see her, they see what’s possible, and she’s leading them now,” she explained.

“We’re getting more and more coaches, more and more judges and tournaments, and we are encouraging the archers to go international.” 

Competition at the European Games may be over for Eowyn – but she’ll remain in Minsk, training, for the rest of the week.

“I’m going to Denmark after this competition to compete in the Nordic youth championship,” she said. “I’ll just let archery lead the way. Hopefully to a lot of different countries.” 

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