Podium the pay-off for years of hard work, says Toja Ellison

Toja Ellison shoots at the Yankton 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final.

For years, Toja Ellison has felt worthy of the medal stand, only to find those beliefs ignored. 

She worked so hard, her shooting was so strong. Even when she reached the podium, it was never with the regularity she deserved. 

“I’ve always had success, but I’ve never been dominant,” said Ellison, who finished in fourth place at last month’s world championships.” 

“There are so many times when I’ve felt unlucky. But now I’m not afraid anymore.”

The compound woman from Slovenia was basking in the glory of her silver medal at the Yankton 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final, where she won two competitive matches in a much-needed reversal of fortune.

Ellison began the day by beating Mexico’s Andrea Becerra in a rematch of the previous week’s bronze medal final, from the worlds, vindicating herself in a duel that had left her feeling cold.

The Slovenian archer was particularly dismayed over a devastating eight in the fifth end that had cost her that match.

This time around, though, she held strong to get the best of Becerra, 147-146.

“Being fourth hurt, because I also put myself in a position there to be third,” Ellison said. “I still don’t know what the heck happened for me to give her a chance, and then to lose in a shoot-off. I should have won there.”

Archers pose on the podium at the Yankton 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final.

The Hyundai Archery World Cup Final was a different story, Ellison said. The three arrows that kept drifting to the right in her last end, for instance, weren’t bad deliveries – they just didn’t hit the mark.

Ellison applied pressure throughout. In three matches, she didn’t miss the yellow once, scoring matches of 147, 148 and 145 points.

On top until the very last end of the final against Colombia’s Sara Lopez, she very much had the chance to walk away with the title.

“I’m not upset, because I did everything in my power to finish with three 10s, and they were three nines,” Ellison shrugged. “Bummer. Off to the next one.”

This was Ellison’s third appearance at the season-ending event, and her first that resulted in a medal.

She finished fourth in 2014 and sixth in 2019. Vaulting to silver – second only to Lopez, who collected her record-sixth gold medal in the event on Wednesday – represents what she hopes will become a turning point in her career. 

Winning silver, after all, is no isolated incident of good fortune; it’s the culmination of years toiling on the fringes of greatness that have finally come to fruition. 

“The World Cup Final is like the reward for the whole entire season,” Ellison said. “It’s the work. It’s the conclusion of everything we’ve done. It’s more than just one event.”

It is also, among other things, a proof of concept. Keep striving, and the results will follow. 

“This is huge for me, being able to make it and then stand on the podium,” Ellison added. “I’m really happy.”