Sara Lopez: I won’t die if I don’t get to the World Cup Final

Sara Lopez at Antalya 2022 shooting

Last year, the legendary Sara Lopez sealed her qualification for the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Yankton at the last stage of the circuit in Paris by beating Colombian teammate Alejandra Usquiano in the gold medal match.

The rest was history. Lopez would go on to secure a record-breaking sixth Hyundai Archery World Cup crown.

After two stages of this year’s circuit in the history books already, Lopez has not yet secured her ticket to this year’s season-ending event scheduled for October in Mexico.

At the season-opener one month ago in Antalya, Turkey, Lopez lost to Usquiano in the quarterfinals (146-144). In Korea at the just-completed second stage, the world number one went out in the eliminations round to in-form Estonian Lisell Jaatma.

Stage three is next, in Paris in June, but Lopez and her teammates will miss it. Colombia is instead focusing on the World Games, the multisport event being held in the USA that has been described as the Olympic Games for compounders. (Lopez is also defending champion there.)

It means that there will be no repeat of a Paris qualification this year.

But that does not bother Lopez, who has one stage left to secure either automatic qualification to Tlaxcala as a stage winner or a ticket on ranking – at the fourth and final stage, at home in Colombia, in Medellin in July.

“Every year we only get to go to three World Cup stages out of four so I’m basically working with having three out of four,” said Lopez.

“Time will tell,” she added in response to whether she would still manage to qualify for Mexico.

“If I don’t get to go I won’t die. It’s not the main goal of my life. I already have six [World Cup titles] so it’s okay if I don't get the seventh one. There’s more time and there are more World Cup Finals in the future for me so that’s fine.”

Sara Lopez at Gwangju 2022 after seeding top in qualification

More important for Lopez was her performance in Gwangju, where she seeded top in qualification as the only compound woman to break 700 – she shot the mark on the nose – before being eliminated from the competition by Jaatma.

The Estonian archer is shooting the best arrows of her career and registered a near-perfect score to see off the world number one, 149-146, on her way to fourth place.

“I’m really happy with how it went,” said Lopez, reflecting on her first competition in Korea. “There’s nothing you can do when the other archer is shooting as good as she did… 149, it is almost a perfect score.”

“I’m actually really happy because I controlled my anxiety, I’m really surprised how I controlled it as in the morning, when I went to the training field, it was a mess,” she continued. Lopez – who is also the reigning world champion – has been open about her struggles over the past two seasons.

“I said at the beginning of the event that I will do my best and if my best brings me a medal, that’s fine. If my best gives me last place, that’s okay. I’m not really disappointed at all,” she said. “My main goals are to get rid of the anxiety and I’m working for that, plus the World Games. I’m looking forward to that and this is just one step of the preparation towards that.”

No archer is ever truly satisfied with their shooting. They’re always looking to tweak and learn in the pursuit of perfection.

And Lopez, despite her record-breaking status, is no exception as she looks to build on her already historic career.

“My attitude has been mostly that I’m not ready right now to win World Cups as I used to be,” said the 27-year-old. “So, I have to work each step, be patient and work to be where I want to be.”

“Even my worst performance still put me near the top of the ranking of qualification. That means that even in my worse [moment], I’m still good and that’s a good sign.”