Tanja Gellenthien learning how to win with gold in Lausanne

Tanja Gellenthien shoots at the second stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne.

Tanja Gellenthien had been knocking on the door of international victory for a while prior to last week’s stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne. Two final appearances on the circuit in 2017 – and a third this year in Guatemala City all ended in the same stellar but disappointing fashion: with a silver medal. 

Last week’s tournament delivered some much-desired change.

The compound woman from Denmark defeated Andrea Marcos, 143-141, in her second gold medal match appearance of the season, overcoming her previous disappointments to secure the big win she so desperately craved. 

“I feel like a stone has been lifted off my shoulders,” Gellenthien said. “I’ve been close so many times, and now I’ve finally won one. Hopefully going forward, the other ones will be easier.”

Results – and the ease by which they come by – can be misleading, Gellenthien explained. Comparing the outcomes of her two final appearances this season, the dramatic loss in a single-arrow shoot-off in stage one and an outright victory in stage two, the world number three said she shot “10-times better in Guatemala City” than in Lausanne.

“In Switzerland, I had to fight for it a lot more,” Gellenthien continued, adding that her scores were generally higher in Guatemala City. “It’s crazy how things work out sometimes. It’s not always on the days when you feel like you’re shooting your best that you’re going to go out there and win.”

Tanja’s most difficult challenge during the event presented itself in her quarterfinal match against Turkey’s Yesim Bostan, who held a one-point advantage entering the fifth end. After hitting a pair of 10s to start, Gellenthien, who normally shoots quickly, struggled to place her final arrow on the rest with 24 seconds on the clock remaining. 

“I wanted it to be 10 because I thought I needed a 10 in order to go into a shoot-off,” Gellenthien said. “All of a sudden, I heard my coach in the background – ‘five, four, three, two …’ – and then he goes shoot!”

The arrow landed into the middle – and gave her the victory. Although Tanja thought she was shooting to extend the match to a tiebreak, Bostan’s score of 28 in the fifth rendered a shoot-off unnecessary. 

“I feel like the more and more I shoot and the more and more I get used to the nerves – they’re there, and I recognise them, but they don't have control over my shooting,” she said. “Just start off with one good shot, and once you do that, it’s just one more, and then one more.”

Gold medal matches are becoming more and more common for the 25-year-old, who will look to duplicate her success next week at the European Championships in Antalya. The third stage of the international circuit in Paris follows that, and her victory in Lausanne guaranteed that she will compete at the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in September.

Winning is no longer out of reach for Tanja. Now that she’s gotten a taste of gold, it’s only made her hungry for more. 

“Going into the next tournament, in that first match, you’re going to walk up and say, ‘alright, I got this. I just won a World Cup, no problem’,” Gellenthien said. “You know it can go either way, but the one thing you want to hold onto is that confidence. And I have it now.”

Competition at the European Championships starts with qualification on Tuesday in Antalya.