Elisa Tartler’s World Cup audition for the German Olympic team

The German recurve women's team shoots during the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

The opening stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup ended on Sunday, signalling the next phase of the international outdoor season as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games loom in the distance. 

Quota places weren’t awarded in Guatemala City. But there were Olympic implications nonetheless. 

Top performers received assurance in their abilities after the hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Archers on the fringe, meanwhile, made use of the competitive environment to demonstrate  both to their teammates and to themselves  why they will be athletes of note this June when the final qualification tournament takes place in Paris.

“Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn,” said Elisa Tartler, who helped Germany to a bronze medal in the recurve women’s team event in Guatemala. “This time I did both. It gives me confidence that I can perform well on this team in the future.”

German leadership finds itself in a unique position with the individual athletes in contention for a spot at the Olympics. The nation’s three women’s quota places are secured, but a level of uncertainty still remains. 

A vacancy opened when Elena Richter unexpectedly announced her retirement in August 2020, leaving a hole in the team’s line-up without an obvious replacement.

While the decorated archer was integral to the team’s success, part of the trio that guided Germany to a full slate of spots for Tokyo 2020 at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch, it will be incumbent on a new archer to fill her role when the Games begin in July.

“I think it’s a good position for the coaches to be in, because we want the best archers on the line,” German coach Marc Dellenbach said. “For them, it’s not easy. But it’s the best preparation for Paris and for the Games.”

The German women's team convenes during the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

Tartler took a step toward claiming the third spot this past week in Guatemala City. The 22-year-old complemented German stalwarts Lisa Unruh and Michelle Kroppen in their push for bronze in the team event, and Dellenbach praised Tartler’s final two ends in the qualification round when she turned in scores of 58 and 59 points out of the possible 60.

Her showing in the individual event was less inspired, as she lost in the second round to our first surprise in the final fours, Madalina Amaistroae, of Romania, 6-0. But their matchup elicited a more positive memory as well.

Tartler got the best of Amaistroaie last month in the bronze medal match of the 2021 European Grand Prix in Antalya, and she was the top finisher overall for Germany. (Unruh and Kroppen included.) All three advanced to the quarterfinals, with Tartler defeating Kroppen, 6-2, in a display that put her on equal footing with her accomplished teammates.

“She’s on the way, but there’s a long way to go,” Dellenbach said, adding that there are currently six German archers in contention for the three spots. “It’s not determined.”

The team won’t be formally announced until June, at stage three of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Paris, he said. An internal competition that contributes towards that selection process is scheduled for the coming weekend.

Slowly, the Olympic picture is starting to take shape. Tartler is hoping she remains in it.

“It’s great to see that hard work pays off in the end,” she said. “This time it’s bronze with the team. Next time it could be better. We’ll see.”