Lopez takes on Levi as Legends Series continues in Vegas

The Legends Match at the Vegas Shoot in 2022.

Colombian compounder Sara Lopez may have records galore but she is always looking for ways to push the boundaries of what is possible for her and the sport.

The reigning women’s World Archery Champion, world number one and six-time Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion accepted the challenge to shoot in a mixed-gender exhibition match for the fourth time of her career on the fringes of this year’s Vegas Shoot.

Although, with Sara’s mounting accolades, perhaps the pressure was more in the court of her challenger, legendary 3D archer Levi Morgan.

“When Bruce [Cull] asked me to do this I ran to my room and said no initially,” laughed Morgan, recalling the call-up from the president of the Vegas Shoot. “Then he called me back and I said I’d do it.”

“But when they told me I was shooting against Sara I said I was about to be beaten by a girl for the second time in my life,” added Morgan, tongue firmly in check during the post-match interview. “I remember how the first one felt – I ran into a toilet and cried for about two hours.”

Entering the impressive arena to rapturous applause from an expectant crowd, the match marked the continuation of the now, semi-official ‘Legends Series’ in Vegas. Initially introduced as a warm-up for the production crew ahead of the live broadcast, it offers an opportunity to showcase unusual match-ups.

Sara took on Jesse Broadwater in 2020 – and she returned, two years later post-pandemic, to face Levi.

The pair were in their element in the arena, Lopez showcasing a bright grin and her rapid shooting – a useful tool against Morgan, sporting his front-strapped binos, who is more used to taking his time on the 3D course than dealing with rapid alternate shooting.

Despite a home crowd for Levi, it was Sara who received the biggest applause.

Both got down to business early, shooting 10s with their first arrows. But as Morgan, his near-two-metre frame towering compared to his Colombian opponent, continued in the match, it was clear he was struggling with the time. Every time Lopez released an arrow in six seconds, it cut into Morgan’s time to prepare.

Already arguably the greatest compound woman of all time, Lopez built a two-point lead after nine arrows (88-86) and never let off, ultimately winning, 146-143.

A formal shake of hands gave way to a more informal hug between the two great competitors.

“It was really scary; he is a legend and I have admired him since forever so I was kind of nervous,” said Lopez after the match. “It was really fun.”

One of the beauties of archery, particularly in Vegas, is the levels and diversity of people shooting side-by-side on the line – no matter age, gender, bowstyle or nationality – the Legends Match only being an extension of that! And this year’s match-up was actually the fourth time that Lopez has shot a mixed-gender match.

She lost to Mike Schloesser in 2016 and then Jesse Broadwater in 2020 but then beat Anders Faugstad, virtually, during the height of the pandemic.

Regardless of the outcome, respect is due to both Sara Lopez and Levi Morgan for putting themselves into the spotlight – in a competition format that neither is particularly comfortable in – for the entertainment of the 1000s in the arena and many more watching online.

“For years, we have been told that men are better than women but just a couple of years ago we started to realise that’s not true,” said Lopez. With a 50% win record in cross-gender matchplay, she’s proving it.

What’s next for the Legends Series – who would you like to see take to the exhibition arena?

Perhaps Olympic Champion An San versus the Armless Archer, Matt Stutzman?

Or what about two teams of married couples, with the men – Brady Ellison, Mike Schloesser and Atanu Das – taking on the women, Deepika Kumari, Toja Ellison and Gaby Schloesser?