Mexican recurve women dominant at home Pan Am Championships
Ever since the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where Aida Roman and Mariana Avitia took individual silver and bronze, respectively, Mexico has been considered among the best recurve women’s teams in the world.
They compounded that success with a world championship silver – on home soil – in 2017.
But for this elongated Olympic cycle, only Alejandra Valencia has qualified Mexico a single quota place, one of the very last available, at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships.
The upcoming few months are critical, as they are for most of the recurve world, if Mexico wants to send a team of its strongest archers to this summer’s Olympics.
The delay might actually have been of benefit. Stalwarts Valencia and Roman remain on the squad – but there are now multiple young archers challenging their level.
Ana Vazquez, the runner-up at the most recent world youth championships, was the number three for a recurve women’s team that qualified top at this week’s Pan American Championships and then battled through to the continental title.
And it is she and 18-year-old Valentina Vazquez, rather than their experienced compatriots, who will represent the host country in the individual final four here in Monterrey.
“I arrived here with the mindset of making it to the finals. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but it was a goal I set and a goal I’ve achieved,” said Ana.
“I want to make it into the gold medal match and win it, but seeing where I am right now makes me happy.”
The televised finals schedule in Monterrey will see the semifinals take place in the spectator-less arena, followed by the bronze and gold medal matches. It is the same format that will be used at stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup this season.
Ana Paula and Valentina will face each other in the first semi, guaranteeing a Mexican archer in the final.
“It‘s going to be a very tough match,” said Valentina.
“[This result is already] not too bad, as this is my first competition after a year and first as a senior. I want to improve my scores, and this event has helped me identify areas that I can improve.”
A Youth Olympian and the fourth seed at this event, Valentina clawed her way back from a 4-0 deficit against Canada’s Stephanie Barrett, then won a shoot-off, to make the final four.
Meanwhile, a few steps down on the socially distanced shooting line, Ana was upsetting her top-seeded teammate and the reigning Pan Am Champion, Valencia.
But there are no hard feelings among the Mexican squad here in Monterrey.
While the two younger members of the team will gain valuable arena experience during Sunday’s finals, it’s the team title – won on the eliminations field, rather than in front of the cameras – that carries this group one step closer toward its goal.
“We are enjoying it as a team,” said Roman, for whom Tokyo would be a fourth Olympic Games. “This is the first time together after a year, and we’re searching for that Olympic place. We want the full team quota, and this is a good competition to train for it.”
When asked about the depth in the squad, probably now stronger than ever before, Aida immediately highlighted the youngest member.
“The fourth of our team is Valentina, and she did very well here,” she said. “She’s been shooting great for the past two or three years. It’s so good to have someone pushing.”
Competition in Monterrey continues with the para archery finals, which will award quota places to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, on Friday.