Japan’s rising star Waka Sonoda makes youth world championships debut in Madrid
Waka Sonoda may only be 17 and still a cadet but she has already made her mark on the Japanese archery team in 2019.
She travelled as part of the senior squad to the Hyundai Archery World Cup stages in Medellin and Shanghai, and the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch.
Japan’s media has already anointed her a promising medal hope for their home Olympics in a year.
At the senior championships in June, Waka finished 17th, losing her tight third-round match to world number 23 Meng Fanxu.
She’s in Madrid on her second world title hunt of the year. This time she’s competing against athletes closer to her own age.
“I’m at the world youth championships for the first time. I feel a little pressure but I’m really excited. I want to do my best here,” the 17-year old said.
Sonoda scored 657 points for the 72-arrow 60-metre ranking round and qualified in eighth. She has a bye into the third round of competition, which takes place on Thursday.
It’s a shorter competition distance than the world number 36 is used to. At senior events, she shoots 70 metres. Cadets at the world youth championships compete over 60 metres.
One of those longer distance events was the Olympic test event, at home in Tokyo, last month. Waka made the third round there, too. It gave a taste of the experience she might have if she makes the team for the Olympics next summer.
“I am from Tokyo in Japan. I started archery at school when I was 13 years old. No one in my family had been an archer before,” said Waka.
Thoughts of the Olympics can wait. Waka is in Madrid, shooting as a cadet.
“My hobby is listening to music and reading magazines. My favourite musician is Japanese singer Masaki Suda,” she said.
There’s plenty of time to put her headphones on in the long breaks that avoid the high heat of the day at this tournament. Come tomorrow, Wada Sonoda will be back on the shooting line.
“I want to win the gold medal,” she said.
The 2019 World Archery Youth Championships takes place on 19-25 August in Madrid, Spain.