El Salvadorian duo start tournament triple-header in French capital

Roberto Hernandez and Sofia Paiz at the Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Paris.

Roberto Hernandez and Sofia Paiz are shooting at their first event of the Hyundai Archery World Cup season this week in Paris.

It’s the start of a busy run of tournaments, with the Bolivarian Games in Colombia coming straight after this trip to the French capital, followed by The World Games after that.

And there is expectation on the pair to bring back results.

“The main objective is the World Games,” says Roberto. “I hope that all the hard training I’ve been doing as well as my efforts as a coach with Sofia and the other archers at the Bolivarians will reflect in competition.”

Roberto is a big name in El Salvador.

He won the Pan American Games in 2019 – an historic result for the country as one of only three gold medals at the event – after carrying the El Salvadorian flag at the opening ceremony. Of late, Hernandez has been spending much of his time not just working on his own shooting, but coaching a group of young archers, too.

“He is very professional in every aspect of archery and he makes me feel secure as an athlete and when we’re on the shooting line together,” says Sofia.

The 25-year-old won a quota place for The World Games at the continental qualifier in Medellin at the end of 2021.

It means that El Salvador will be represented in both individual events – and that the country, through the pairing of Roberto and Sofia, can compete for the mixed team title, too.

“I know he believes in what he is doing with me and that makes me feel very comfortable. I know what he is going to do on the line and he knows what I am going to do and we really trust each other,” says Sofia.

“He trusts in me 100% and that makes me perform better.”

It’s not uncommon for an athlete to transition into a career as a coach when they’re done competing at the elite level. There are not that many that juggle both roles – and successfully.

“As a coach, I can’t show her if I am nervous or tense,” says Roberto. “I have to show her that I am calm and in control.”

The approach isn’t the same when he moves out of the box and onto the line.

“As a teammate, I am able to show her how I really feel and this allows us to be more empathetic with each other and helps when we’re shooting as a team,” he explains.

Could Roberto’s dual role be the key to El Salvador’s success? Sofia has high hopes.

“I’m hoping to come back with three medals from these events,” she says.

“I feel that getting those will be easier with the mixed team but individually, too, I know that Roberto trusts me and that makes me confident.”

Competition for compound archers starts this afternoon in Paris.

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