Nora Valdez wins compound women’s gold with perfect shoot-off

Nora Valdez shoots during the gold medal match of the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

Nora Valdez of Colombia beat Tanja Gellenthien of Denmark in a tiebreak, hitting nearly dead-centre, on Saturday to claim the compound women’s gold medal at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

The 23-year-old booked the first automatic qualification spot for this season’s Hyundai Archery World Cup Final with the victory.

“I’m beyond happiness,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for a long time, and I have worked very hard for this. I’m happy with this triumph.”

Valdez’s deciding arrow couldn’t have been more perfect. It was an incredible way to cap her first-career appearance in the final four.

Shooting second after Gellenthien hit a 10 of her own, the Colombian archer stepped up to the line and delivered something even better, clipping the tiny grey X that marks the very centre of the target set 50 metres downrange, to secure the first individual victory of her career at a stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup. 

“I focused on my technique, on enjoying the shot, and I think it was one of the best shots I’ve ever done,” she said.

The reigning Pan American Champion, Valdez built on that success from last month in Monterrey, Mexico here in Guatemala City. She defeated world number one Alexis Ruiz in the semifinals, also in a shoot-off, after they tied at 145 points apiece. Valdez, again, shot a better 10.

Tanja Gellenthien shoots during the gold medal match of the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

In the final, she trailed Gellenthien, 117-116, after four ends, but maintained her composure to extend the match past regulation and eventually claim victory in the tiebreak.

“That was a tough match, and I knew it was going to be because she’s a really good shooter,” Gellenthien said. “Of course, there are points that I’d love to take back, but I’m proud that under pressure I managed to finish with a 10. In the shoot-off, I shot a great arrow, but hers was a bit closer, and that’s what happens sometimes.”

The fight for bronze featured a pair of USA archers. Gellenthien had defeated Savannah Vanderwier, 149-143, in their semifinal. But Vandweriwer, making her international debut with the seniors, recovered to defeat her teammate, 143-141.

“I really enjoyed the final matches, and to win a medal, I think it’s really cool,” Vanderwier said. “First World Cup and I made the podium? That was a huge goal for me, so achieving that is pretty cool.”

The individual winners of each stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup qualify automatically for the circuit final, the host of which this year is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Gellenthien, Ruiz and Vanderwier all collected valuable points towards the rankings, which is the other main qualification route.