Four storylines to follow on the Hyundai Archery World Cup in 2021

Brady Ellison lets an arrow fly during the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in 2019.

April marks the official start of the international outdoor season – and the return of the Hyundai Archery World Cup.

Our first stage takes place in Guatemala City, followed by stops in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in Paris.

World Archery is committed to delivering a full calendar of international tournaments this season. As the world continues to recover from the pandemic, we will take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe environment at the venues for everyone in attendance. 

It was more than 18 months ago that the last Hyundai Archery World Cup Champions were crowned in Russia.

In Moscow, Kang Chae Young won her first circuit title, Mike Schloesser his second, and Brady Ellison and Sara Lopez both secured their fifth career victories at archery’s annual season-ending invitational event.

The race to six titles starts in just a few weeks.

Scroll down for more on that, plus three other storylines we are following as we head into the 15th season of the Hyundai Archery World Cup.

1) First to six?

Since winning her first Archery World Cup Champion crown in Lausanne in 2014, Sara Lopez is unbeaten at archery’s banner event, having won a total of five titles in six seasons until the most recent in 2019 (she withdrew from Odense 2016 due to health reasons).

Brady Ellison has taken a little longer to collect his five golds, needing 10 seasons to reach the mark. He won his first in 2010.

It’s a toss-up as to which statistic is more impressive. The utter dominance of Lopez or the longevity – and continued improvement – of Ellison. You can’t choose. When we first began following the race to five titles, at the start of 2019, few people thought they would both be able do it.

But they did, and we’re back to where we started: Who will win a record-sixth victory first?

“I am not nervous about this year at all,” Ellison said recently. “I am so ready to get this going again.”

2) The media darling(s)

Every year, one young archer comes out of nowhere to record impressive results on the circuit and be – often prematurely – ordained for world-beating success.

Back in 2014, it was Brazil’s Marcus D’Almeida, who finished runner-up at the Archery World Cup Final. One year later, Kang Chae Young – now the world number one – took triple gold in her debut in Shanghai. It was then Mete Gazoz, who won his first stage in Berlin three years ago. The list goes on.

There are three favourites to receive the hype this season, and they’re all recurve women:

But the best thing about this year is that it could be anyone. We have absolutely no idea ...

3) … what’s changed?

Since the outdoor season ended in 2019, we’ve had exactly four world ranking tournaments: an Asia Cup in Bangkok, the Antalya Challenge last October, a European Grand Prix in Porec a few weeks ago and the Pan American Championships in March.

That’s a small and sporadic sample size from which to assess high-value results.

As of today, we simply don’t know who’s performing ahead of the first stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

It’s possible that the same familiar names will top the podium later this month. It’s equally possible we’ll get an entirely new roster of medallists. It’s probably likely that the reality will sit somewhere in between.

4) Olympic qualification

It’s an unavoidable fact that, in every Olympic year, conversation at international competitions is dominated by the lead-up to, qualification for and preparations ahead of the Games.

We’ll be talking about it, and you’ll be hearing about it a lot.

This year, the third stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in France will also host the final world qualification tournament for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. First, there will be three men’s team and three women’s team spots awarded – and then a few individual places will be made available, the final number being dependent on the team results.

For the first time in history, World Archery is broadcasting the business end of the Olympic quota eliminations live and in full, just as was done from the Americas continental qualifier held alongside the Pan Am Championships in March.

Unlike that event, the qualification phases in Paris will run during the weekend prior to the finals of the stage, from 19 June to 22 June, which will give both events – the Olympic quota tournament and the third and last stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup – the focus they each deserve.

The 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup starts in Guatemala City on 19-25 April.