Lisell Jaatma on course for an historic triple in France?

Lisell Jaatma shoots at the Nimes Tournament in 2021.

“Before the first time I won Nimes, I had the worst season of my career,” says the now back-to-back champion of Europe’s most famous indoor tournament.

“I was shooting good but didn’t win any matches. Because of that, I just didn’t have any confidence.”

In January 2020, just months before the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things clicked for Lisell Jaatma.

She survived a first-round shoot-off to a French local and then ran through a veritable who’s-who of top compound women, including then-world-number-one Alexis Ruiz, to take individual gold at the Nimes Archery Tournament.

It was the young Estonian archer’s first major title.

She’d soon follow it up with another big finish, coming second to Paige Pearce at the Indoor Archery World Series Finals just a few weeks later.

“You have to be mentally strong and you have to believe that you can win,” says Lisell.

One whole year and a worldwide lockdown later, Jaatma returned to competition in Nimes to successfully defend her title. It was a promising result ahead of a season that saw the return of international outdoor tournaments.

“I got physically stronger and my scores got better,” she says of life during the pandemic. “Luckily, I can practise all the time. My parents own an indoor range and there’s an outdoor range next to my home.”

“Mentally, it was harder to come back. But that was the same for everyone,” she adds.

The outdoor season didn’t bring the results Jaatma wanted – nor that which was indicated by her indoor success.

She won only one match all year at the highest level, taking tough losses in the early rounds at two stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup and struggling at both the European and world championships.

“I’m good at both indoor and outdoor,” she asserts. “I just haven’t had any luck outdoors.”

Lisell’s younger brother, Robin, did have some matches break his way in 2022, though. After taking the under-21 world title in Poland in August, he became the latest youth champion to climb the senior world podium in the same year, collecting bronze in Yankton.

“It was incredible,” says the older sister. “I have always known that he is a very good archer. He’s mentally very strong and I think it’s just the beginning of an amazing career.”

It’s difficult to think of a better set-up for two archers looking to make waves on the world stage.

Two siblings who have both shown flashes of significant talent, training side-by-side in their home range, comparing scores and motivating each other to perform.

And the first test of the season is up this weekend.

Lisell Jaatma, who’s been so good in this month and in this venue, returns to France with a shot at an historical feat. Back-to-back winners in Nimes are rare, back-to-back-to-back winners unheard of.

“I’ve had a difficult start to the indoor season,” says Jaatma, who has, admittedly, been resting a shoulder of late. “Hopefully everything will turn out good. I will give it my best.”

Competition at the Nimes Archery Tournament starts on Friday.