Ziva Lavrinc secures Paralympic quota one month after giving a birth

Ziva Lavrinc, World Archery Para Championships Pilsen 2023

On 13 June, Ziva Lavrinc gave birth to a son, Noah. Just 37 days later in Pilsen, she secured Slovenia a quota spot for the Paris 2024 Paralympics at the first qualifier, held as part of the World Archery Para Championships

“I wasn’t even sure I would come here. I booked a hotel with an option to cancel it the day before the arrival,” she says.

Lavric’s life irreversibly changed in 2018 when she crashed on her mountain bike in Switzerland. Ever since, she’s used a wheelchair.

At that time, she was working in Switzerland where she met her life partner, Manfred Risse, who introduced her to archery. Five years later, she was shooting for a quota place to the Paralympic Games.

As soon as she puts her bow aside, she carefully embraces little Noah, who travelled to the Czech Republic with his parents.

He first international trip – at less than two months old.

“We decided a little earlier that we would give it a try. If it was going to work, we would do that, if not, we would postpone it,” says Ziva.

It worked out. She is here with Noah. And now, with a quota for Paris.

Ziva Lavrinc, World Archery Para Championships Pilsen 2023

Her life hasn't been the same since the baby's birth. 

“He brought me to a completely different mental state, where life gets completely new dimensions,” she explains. “Of course, archery is not so much a priority.”

And yet, here she is.

“In some ways, it’s more relaxing, but in other ways, it’s much more demanding. We need to think about what we take with us, not to forget anything,” she adds.

When they booked a hotel in Pilsen, nothing was sure. Neither Lavrinc's physical condition nor the ability to travel with young Noah.

“So far, he’s been a really cool kid, and it’s easy to travel around with him,” she says.

How much practice did she have prior to Pilsen?

“It was a week after Noah was born,” says the Slovenian archer, when asked how quickly she picked up her bow again? The pause to give birth lasted astonishingly just a week. 

“Our last training was just two days before! We were actually thinking about doing it the day before, but the contraction started, so we were like, ‘maybe we don’t go to the training field, but to the hospital’.”

Ziva Lavrinc, World Archery Para Championships Pilsen 2023

Two days later, she and Manfred welcomed their first son. A few days after that, Lavrinc was back on the training field – but things felt different.

“All of the joints lose so that birth can happen,” she said. “Also, the joints in my shoulders and hands are loose, so it’s hard to put them in the right position and stabilise them. Sometimes an arrow flies not where I wanted.”

“It’s still a couple of 1000 of arrows away from that feeling.”

Ziva found a reassuring example in two fellow Slovenian archers having a successful comeback after giving birth.

Toja [Ellison] was the first one, then Ana Umer, too,” she says. “She just gave birth to her son not long ago.”

“When I saw Ana, there wasn’t a question about it. It was like, ‘yes, of course, it’s possible’.”

And here she is, in Pilsen.

“It's a bit of a win just being here,” Lavrinc said prior to the qualification round.

She was close to booking the quota for Paris 2024 in the mixed team event with Dejan Fabcic, but the duo finished fifth – needing to make the final four – having lost a shoot-off to Italy in the quarterfinals.

One day later, Ziva advanced to the individual quarterfinals and secured the all-important ticket to the Paralympics…

…in front of her loved ones.