Canales, Solera command Spanish team with high hopes for home worlds
Elia Canales and Jose Manuel Solera both won medals at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games. Elia came second individually to China’s Zhang Mengyao, while Jose Manuel took gold in the mixed team event paired with France’s Kyla Touraine-Helias.
Less than a year of training later, the two Spanish archers are representing their country again – but this time on home soil.
Spain has never won a medal at the World Archery Youth Championships – or the senior version of the outdoor target event – but with Canales and Solera helming the host’s squad, hopes are high.
“I’m feeling good,” said Elia. “I have trained a lot for this and at the World Cups, I have gained more experience. So now it’s time to enjoy the tournament, especially because it is at home.”
After her Youth Olympic medal, Elia stepped up to join Spain’s senior team at all four stages of the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup and the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships.
She won her first senior medal during the course of the season – gold in the mixed team event in Antalya.
“It has helped me gain experience and learn a lot more. I now have a different perspective on how to approach competition and I feel like I have changed a lot,” she said. “Whether I’m shooting at senior or junior events, the goal is always the same and I always give my best. You can never let your guard down.”
Elia’s teammate Jose Manuel went through the selection process for the senior squad but wasn’t picked. He spent this summer training and competing at continental and national competitions.
“Buenos Aires was an experience I will never forget because it taught me a lot,” he said. “I gained a lot of experience, I have learned a lot, I’m now a better archer and I love this, I love to become a better version of myself whenever I have the chance.”
“Every time I shoot a competition, I learn. The demand in senior competition is higher so my learning needs to correspond.”
Elia competed at the youth worlds in Rosario two years ago. Jose Manuel did not. Both understand the expectation and are enjoying the opportunity of having such a major event – the largest of its kind in history – in Madrid.
“I think it’s an honour and I’m very happy to have the worlds at home. It feels different in the way we are not travelling, we are here, but the environment on the field is basically the same,” said Jose Manuel.
Elia added: “We always aim for the best. If we don’t do well, we don’t – but we always aim for gold.”
Jose Manuel and Elia live and train in Madrid at the city’s dedicated archery centre. It’s just a few kilometres away from the qualification range for the 2019 World Archery Youth Championships on Complutense University’s rugby field.
It’s not quite a true home-field advantage. But it’s pretty close.
The 2019 World Archery Youth Championships takes place on 19-25 August in Madrid, Spain.