Schloesser close to completing career grand slam

Mike Schloesser at Munich 2022

Compound men’s world number one Mike Schloesser has a lot of medals.

There are 71 are listed on his biography page on the World Archery website.

He has won world titles in outdoor (2013), indoor (2018) and field (2018), plus the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final three times (2016, 2019, 2021) and Indoor World Series Final once (2020). He’s also won the European Games title – in 2019 – the European indoor titles twice, 2019 and 2022, and both stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup held so far this year.

But he’s never won the European Championships.

Top-seeded this week in Munich and into a final against reigning European Champion Yakup Yildiz, the 28-year-old is on the cusp of becoming the first archer in history to complete the career grand slam – winning the indoor and outdoor circuits, the world title and a continental title, too.

“It’s been a curse. I shot two Europeans in a row which I shot very good at but had a match-up against opponents who were better than me,” said Mister Perfect. “In the first match [in Munich] I was thinking, ‘you’re always unlucky at the Europeans, you’re always unlucky at the Europeans’, but I was just like, ‘shoot your arrows’.”

In his five previous appearances at the championships, Schloesser has finished ninth (2021), eighth (2018), ninth (2016) fifth (2014) and 17th (2012)

“I’ve been working on it. This time, I felt like I was much stronger,” said Mike. “That first match was tough, but from there I put myself on cruise control and just trusted myself. [The title] is something on my list to tick off, so I’m looking forward to the final on Saturday.”

So far in 2022, it’s seemed like the only person who can beat Mike is Mike himself. And as we enter the third month of the international season, that’s not happened – as it may have in the past.

It’s due to a switch in focus on delivering his quality from practice and the early phases of competition in the finals arena.

“I’ve been working really hard on it and I feel like it’s paying off,” he added. “Now I sometimes feel that my arena performances are even better than my performances before [those in] qualification or elimination matches. They are higher than what I have shown before.”

“It’s switched. I’ve been working hard on my mental part, not only my shooting, and that’s been showing. The pure capability to shot high scores was higher a couple of years ago – but now I can do the same thing in the arenas which I can do in training.”

Mike isn’t wrong. Watch his win at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in 2016 and you can see how much he fought with himself under the pressure of delivering when it mattered. There’s a big flinch, and though he won, he was mentally grappling with putting his thumb firmly on the trigger. In that period, his last arrows were often his worst, in both delivery and score.

Those wobbles are – it seems – a thing of the past. Be it the first or the 15th arrow in the arena, Mister Perfect no longer has issues living up to his nickname.

Having picked up two wins from two stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup so far this season and on the cusp of delivering that historic career grand slam, Schloesser is on a roll.

“I hope to extend it as long as possible,” says a smiling Mike, when asked how long it will continue, before turning his attention to the challenge ahead on Saturday afternoon in Germany – and his opponent, Turkey’s Yakup Yildiz.

“Everybody that makes it this far has some sort of capability because you don’t make it with just good luck, you need to shoot good arrows otherwise you don’t make it,” he said. “It will definitely be a tough match.”

International medals number 72 and 73 are already guaranteed for Mike’s trophy cabinet (Schloesser’s Netherlands will also feature in the compound men’s team final at these Europeans), but which colour they will be won’t be decided until tomorrow.

The Netherlands’ standout national shirt, oranje, isn’t far off gold – and another two of those would do Mike very nicely indeed.

Not to mention that grand slam to boot.