Ksenia Perova on world championship title – I had fire in my eyes

Nearly two years ago, Russian recurve archer Ksenia Perova beat Olympic Champion Chang Hye Jin in the final of the Hyundai World Archery Championships in Mexico City.

It wasn’t a pretty win. It was a gritty, gruelling victory that has become typical of Perova’s performances under the spotlight.

“I really wanted to win back then. I had fire in my eyes. I forced myself to be confident,” she said. “I knew that she was a very high-ranked sportswoman and I focused on making myself more confident in my shooting.”

Even as she shot arrows wide in the eight, even the six, Ksenia kept her cool. Her Korean opponent, usually so clean and impressive, was equally scrappy – needing to pull level with a 28-point set in the fourth.

Both opened the final set with a seven. Ksenia then shot a 10 to Hye Jin’s six, and the Korean archer closed with an eight – allowing Perova to claim the world title with a seven.

It wasn’t a pretty victory, but it was championship quality nonetheless.  

“Russian people,” said Perova. “We have the will and the spirit.”

Despite not putting up the kind of scores of her peers, Ksenia has often found a way to win. The 30-year-old’s career average arrow is 8.93; Chang Hye Jin’s 9.26.

But it’s Perova that’s just knocked Chang out of the top spot in the world rankings.

Much of that is to do with her being the reigning world champion, but having won the Antalya stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup for the last two years hasn’t hurt, either. It’s to Turkey that the international tour heads next, after Shanghai, too.

“I’m trying to find a good way of shooting right now. I feel a bit of a dip. I really hope that I will find the feeling of the good shot again,” she said.

What better place to do so than at the competition she’s had the most success?

And that would be in time for a world championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch where she’ll have to outperform her scores again – with that Russian will and spirit – if she stands a chance of defending her title.

Fortunately, there’s an undepletable source of the fire for Perova’s eyes.

“[Being a mother helps] because it limits the chance of me making a mistake,” said Perova. “I don’t spend a lot of time with my baby – and I feel really bad when I come to a competition for nothing, so I have to win in order to make it worth it.”

The second stage of the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup takes place on 6-12 May in Shanghai, China.