Mathias Fullerton’s expectations rising with each podium push
Mathias Fullerton is aware that his accomplishments should be received with nothing but admiration.
The young compounder from Denmark completed his first foray on the international circuit with a pair of fourth-place finishes at the season-ending events in Yankton, including at the invite-only Hyundai Archery World Cup Final.
Fullerton lost in single-arrow shoot-offs in both bronze medal matches: first, to fellow under-21 standout Robin Jaatma at the world championships, then in similarly heartbreaking fashion to USA archer Kris Schaff at the World Cup Final.
Contending for the medal stand at 18 years old speaks to his talent – and invites a steadily increasing level of expectations.
To be content with his current level would inhibit his progress.
As impressive as Fullerton looked in his first international season – including a silver medal at the Antalya 2021 European Championships – he knows how much he has yet to accomplish.
“I expect great things from him, but the way Mathias is shooting, I also expect great things for the next five to 10 years to come,” said Denmark’s coach, Niels Dall, who cited Fullerton’s stoic demeanour as critical to his success.
“He’s a casual guy, a young guy. But he beat all of the seniors to get here, so his confidence level is high. If you can make the team in Denmark at such a young age, you must be in good form.”
Fullerton’s rise from record-setting cadet to the second-ranked compound man in the world has followed a swift and linear trajectory.
The Danish teenager set three benchmarks at the 2019 World Archery Youth Championships in Madrid, pacing the competition field as the only compound cadet to hit 700 points in qualification. He was, at 16 years old, a promising talent to watch.
Then the pandemic hit, bringing with it ample time for uninterrupted training and reflection. Fullerton, like many young archers, leveraged the opportunity to accelerate his development from a gifted youngster to someone closer to fully formed.
“He’s got the whole package,” Dall said. “He has great technique, a great mindset, he’s a strong guy, he practises a lot. He’s got it all.”
Fullerton’s rapid ascension is why fourth-place results are assessed with a tinge of disappointment. As encouraging as Fullerton’s shooting has been, he knows he’s capable of even more.
“I think you just have to look at it from a bigger point of view,” Fullerton said in Yankton. “It’s never fun losing, but I think if you look at everything as a whole, I’ve come pretty far this year, so I’m happy.”
Fullerton reflected on his performance at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final to illustrate his point.
Fullerton weathered two perfect ends from his opponent to start the match, clawing back to defeat the archer from Slovakia, 146-145, by shooting a perfect 30 in the fifth.
He then fell to eventual back-to-back champion Mike Schloesser in the semifinals on the way to that second shoot-off loss against Schaff.
But the results did not reflect his level of comfort and confidence shooting at such a competitive event.
“Even from the first match today on the big stage to the last one, it was a big difference,” Fullerton said. “I feel like I gained a lot of confidence each match, and I definitely think that getting the experience now is very important for the future.”
His results harken back to his debut on the international circuit in Lausanne, where Fullerton placed just outside of the podium with yet another fourth-place finish.
Put yourself in a position to succeed enough times, and missing the podium begins to frustrate. But consistently appearing in such situations at such a young age is an accomplishment in its own right – and portends great things for the future.
“It’s still a little bit surprising," Fullerton said. “Hopefully there are more world championships in the future. With this being the first one, if I only get better, the results will come.”
“After each tournament, I always get hungry to shoot even more,” he added. “When I look back and process what I did the whole season, it’s automatically rewarding.”