Meet the team: Russia’s Olympic silver-winning women

The Russian women’s recurve team are on a roll. After a silver medal in Rio against Korea, they had some measure of revenge against the ‘great white sharks’ at the opening stage of the season’s Hyundai Archery World Cup in Shanghai this year, crushing them 6-0 in the quarterfinals on a day of shocks on the recurve side of the field.

They had little trouble against the USA team that Sunday and took a well-deserved gold medal at the first outing of the year. 

Despite the high-profile success, the Russian squad don’t go out of their way to court publicity and are generally one of the less well-known teams on the circuit. They are, of course, the reigning world team champions as well, and will defend their title this year in Mexico. 

Along with the Olympic pair of Ksenia Perova and Tuiana Dashidorzhieva, 2017 sees the return of the very experienced Natalia Erdynieva - individual champion in Antalya exactly 10 years ago. Along with 24-year-old Sayana Tsyrempilova making her World Cup debut, Russia are clear favourites for a podium finish - with or without the Koreans. 

What about Shanghai: What made the difference? 

Natalia Erdynieva: “We went out very early to China for a training camp, and practised a lot there. We did the same thing here [in Turkey].”

The reception when you got back from Rio must have been something pretty special, too?

Ksenia Perova: “We shot a good game. People were keen to congratulate us, of course. Then there was time for a little rest. And a lot of fun.” [Much laughter]

Has there been a bump of interest in archery in Russia after Rio?

Tuiana Dashidorzhieva: “There’s been a lot of young archers appearing. They come along and they want to be like Inna Stepanova.” [Laughs]

Where do you all train, and how hard?

Sayana Tsyrempilova: “There’s not one specific place. We go to training camps everywhere. There’s an Olympic centre near Moscow but for us it really depends on where the competitions are. So we are used to shooting in lots of different places. We probably shoot about 350 arrows a day in full training before a competition.” [Some discussion] “No! 400. Put 400.” [Laughter]

What are you going to achieve this week?

Sayana: “Hopefully the kind of work we did in Shanghai. We hope to do some better things in the mixed team and individual matches, too. We will just do our best, of course.” 

What about Mexico? You’re defending a title.

Sayana: “We’ll do the same training in Mexico, we’ll train there or very close beforehand. Our coach has said we’ll probably be going either to Cuba or Hawaii.” [one member of the team does a brief hula dance]

Do you have a team captain, and what do they do?

[Everybody points at Ksenia] 

Sayana: “The most experienced one!” 

Natalia: “She tries to keep us all riding the same wave. Keep the mood up. Make jokes.” 

Ksenia, can you tell us a joke?

Ksenia: “Russian jokes just can’t be translated into English. The humour is too black.” 

What do the Russian team do that other teams don’t?

[Much discussion]

Tuiana: “Special physical exercises. They’re a secret.” [much laughter]  

What else would you like to say?

Sayana: “Good luck to everyone!”

The second stage of the 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup runs 6 to 11 June in Antalya, Turkey.