Pavlova persists in pursuing Paris place despite several near misses

Anastasia Pavlova shooting in European qualifier in Essen.


Anastasia Pavlova has already come within a breath of qualifying for Paris 2024 a few times, but the arrows haven’t quite fallen her way… yet.

Since the war in Ukraine turned her life upside down, the 29-year-old has been determined to prove that her country’s athletes can maintain their quality on the international stage. 

Pavlova had just returned from the 2022 European Indoor Championships in Slovenia when her hometown of Nova Kakhovka became one of the first places to be occupied by Russia. It meant she, like millions of others, was displaced, living in Germany for four months before returning home via Lviv with elite archery the last thing on her mind.

Despite the obstacles, Pavlova is not erring from her goal of representing Ukraine in Paris this summer.

“Since the invasion, my biggest wish is peace in Ukraine, stopping war,” she said. “In archery, my goal is an Olympic medal, but first we need to get the quota place.”

After missing out by a hair – twice – at the European Games in Krakow last June, the two-time Olympian was just two match wins from booking that ticket on Monday.

But she lost in the quarterfinals of the European qualifier in Essen, where three individual quota places were at stake.

Anastasia Pavlova

When the Olympic qualification process started last year, the first quota places were awarded to the European Games recurve mixed team champions and to the top two athletes in the men’s and women’s individual events.

The Ukrainian duo of Pavlova and Ivan Kozhokar won silver, losing the final in three sets to Spain’s Elia Canales and Miguel Alvariño. The disappointment of missing out was quickly erased by elation at climbing the podium.

“It was very emotional because I knew that it was important for Ukrainians to see our wins, our flag and representatives on the podium,” Pavlova said. “We want to show that we are strong anyway and we deserve to live a normal life like other countries.”

Top seed in Krakow and with two more Olympic quotas available in the individual event, her pursuit of a quota was still achievable.

Pavlova, who carried the Ukrainian flag during the opening ceremony in Poland, had another chance to secure a ticket by winning her semifinal. But she lost to Canales – again – in a double shoot-off.

With the Spaniard ineligible for an individual quota having already won the mixed team title, one went to the second finalist (and eventual winner) Penny Healey, while the remaining ticket would go to the winner of the bronze medal match.

Tied at 4-4 with Italy’s Chiara Rebagliati, Pavlova opened the fifth set of that match with a seven, ruining her chances.

Anastasia Pavlova

“When the European Games finished I got a message saying, ‘thank you for the fight, it was a pleasure to see this competition’,” she said. “These words from a soldier who defends our country were very precious.”

The last few years have been tough on Pavlova.

“I could only think ‘what will tomorrow be like in Ukraine?’”

But support from others back home has the talented archer refocused on this year’s goal.

“Even people I didn’t know said nice words on social media,” said Pavlova. “The support was really good, I tried to keep calm and 2023 was more successful for me.”

Nova Kakhovka was flooded when a nearby dam was damaged so Anastasia hasn’t been home since fleeing the invasion. She’s been training in Lviv, Kyiv and Chernivtsi, while the danger of war still looms large over the practice field.

Instead, training has taken place in Lviv, Kyiv and Chernivtsi, but the danger and impact of war still looms large while Pavlova targets a place at this summer’s Olympics.

“We’ve had camps when missile and drone attacks meant we needed to go to the shelter. We saw missiles and heard air defences,” she said.

“These are emotions that I can’t wish on anyone.”

Anastasia Pavlova

Ukraine did win its first Olympic quota place for Paris in Essen, courtesy of Mykhailo Usach’s quarterfinal upset of multi-Olympic-medallist Mauro Nespoli in the recurve men’s event on Monday.

“It’s very important to represent Ukraine at the Olympic Games,” said Pavlova.

“To show the world that our nation is strong, that people in Ukraine deserve to live a normal life, and that we don’t give up even at the scariest of times.”

Ukraine will attempt to win team quotas later this week.

The final chance to qualify for the Games comes in June at the final qualifier in Antalya.

“I am very thankful to all people of other countries who have helped Ukrainians and tried to help them feel that someone cares about them,” said Pavlova.

Pavlova’s mind may be split. But her goal is singular.

Competition in Essen continues on Wednesday with qualifying at the European Championships.

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