Replay button? Jaatma, Girard shooting for return to Nimes arena

Nimes was the start of what should have been a beautiful year for Lisell Jaatma in 2020.

The then-20-year-old secured the first major victory of her senior career when she defeated Tanja Jensen in the compound women’s final, 145-143.

Jaatma followed that up with an impressive second-place finish at the Indoor Archery World Series Finals in Las Vegas, only falling short in the televised final against home favourite and experienced international Paige Pearce.

We all know what happened next.

The pandemic hit, events were cancelled and Jaatma never got the opportunity to build on her fast start to the calendar year.

Twelve months later, the global pandemic continues. But international archery tournaments are starting to return thanks to scientific progress in understanding the virus, development of safe practices for hosting sporting events and the early stages of vaccination programmes.

Jaatma is back at the the Sud de France – Nimes Archery Tournament looking to defend her title .

“Last year was easier than this year because we haven’t had many competitions and the pressure is higher,” said Jaatma, who seeded second with 586 for the ranking round, three points behind Amanda Mlinaric. “Last year, I didn’t have any expectations. So this year let’s see what happens.”

Jaatma is through her first match in Nimes and will face Mariya Shkolna in the compound women’s quarterfinals on Sunday morning.

She’s not the only archer looking to make a return to the finals field.

Frenchman Nicolas Girard had somewhat of a breakout at this event in 2020, too. He took on Braden Gellenthien, a storied winner in Nimes, in the compound men’s gold medal match. Girard lost, 148 to 145, but recorded the best result of his career to date.

“The competition is certainly smaller [this year], but the level is, as usual, very high,” said Girard, who is also into the quarterfinals, where he will take on Martin Damsbo. “I am a little less [prepared] because there was the confinement. The training was there, but the lack of competition meant that my level of preparation hasn’t been the same.”

Gellenthien, from the USA, was entered to attend but was unable to organise the required documentation to travel to France under the changing pandemic rules.

Around 110 archers representing 13 countries across Europe are competing at the Sud de France – Nimes Archery Tournament in 2021. The event focuses purely on the professional categories, and there are no competitions for youth or masters athletes. Significant social-distancing regulations are in place, and all competitors had to present negative PCR test results for COVID-19 upon registration.

It’s certainly a different environment than usual.

But the goal remains the same. And returns to the Nimes finals arena for either Jaatma or Girard would present a welcome chance to hit the reset and replay buttons – and take advantage of a great early result after a largely lost year.

Competition in Nimes concludes on Sunday, with eliminations matches in the morning and televised finals starting at 13h30 CET. Tune in to English-language coverage across World Archery’s digital platforms or the domestic broadcast via Sport en France.

The 2021 Indoor Archery World Series is a mass-participation circuit of live and online archery tournaments.