Alexandra Mirca’s perfect balance: Elite archer and mother

Alexandra Mirca is mother to a baby daughter – and likely soon to be a two-time Olympian.

She won a single spot for Moldova at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch by making the quarterfinals. And that was despite a limited training regime.

“This world championships for me really was a surprise because I have not done so much work at home. So when I went there, I really didn’t know what was going to happen with me,” she said.

“When I made the quarterfinals I was quite surprised, and my team and my coach were very surprised, too.”

Mirca beat four opponents at the worlds, including Vanessa Landi and Christine Bjerendal, finally being stopped by soon-to-be-crowned world champion Lei Chien-Ying of Chinese Taipei.

Crucially, she made the last eight and became the only woman to secure an individual spot for the Olympics in the main competition.

“Of course, every athlete wants to go to the Olympic Games. I’m a sportsperson who does hard training every day,” said Mirca.

The spot is won. Her trip to the 2019 European Games in Minsk – the second opportunity for athletes from the continent to secure Olympic quota places – was one that had less riding on it.

Mirca now just needs to win the right to fill the spot in Moldova.

If that happens, Tokyo will be Alexandra’s second Olympic Games after Rio in 2016, where she shot with teammate Dan Olaru. That same year, the pair became European mixed team champions.

The small number of competitive archers in Moldova means it is highly likely that Mirca will fill the spot for Tokyo.

“The national championships of Moldova is usually only me and one or two girls. I have been the champion many, many times. So yes, it will be me going to Tokyo,” she said. “I’m not saying I’m better but we don’t have the girls, that’s all. I shoot with the boys, with Dan and the other men.”

Alexandra hasn’t been training recently as much as she has previously.

Mirca was married in 2017. Her daughter, Paulina, was born in June 2018. She was keen to point out that her situation, balancing both elite sport and parenthood, was not unusual.

“I have a daughter and a family, but this is my work. So it’s not a problem for my career,” she said. “You could say the first part of the day I am with my daughter, and the second part of the day I have training. For me, being a parent is not a reason not to go and train.”

Mirca is not the only parent on the elite line at the European Games. Athletes like Ksenia Perova and Inna Stepanova of Russia, and Lidiia Sichenikova of Ukraine – and those from other continents like Korea’s Lee Seungyun – also have young children.

“I can still be an archer, I can still be a mother, I can still be a good wife – it’s not a problem,” she said. “When you plan your life, it’s easy. I plan every day, I plan where I need to go, what I need to do. When [my daughter] grows up a little, perhaps she can come with me to a tournament.”

The Moldovan team has looked relaxed on the field in Minsk. It’s only a long day’s drive from home. And it’s comfortable.

“I like it here. It’s the same food at home. The weather is good for me,” said Alexandra. 

The 25-year-old’s European Games finished with a second-round loss to Ukraine’s Veronika Marchenko. Mirca will next head to Berlin for the fourth stage of the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup – and then home to Moldova and her daughter.

“I haven’t seen her in two weeks. Of course, I miss her. There have been so many competitions one after the other this year,” she said.

“But I think if you want to be a good athlete, you don’t need to find a reason why you can’t reach the top level. You just need to have a plan, and the desire to do something good.”

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