Triple circuit champion Schloesser entering the old guard?
Mike Schloesser won his third Hyundai Archery World Cup Final last year in Yankton, defeating arch-nemesis Braden Gellenthien, 148-144, in the final. The victory in 2021 added to his previous titles from 2016 and 2019.
On the eve of the season opener of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit starting in Antalya, the Netherlands native is looking ahead to a fresh new year and a full four-stage season – which also stops in Gwangju (Korea), Paris (France) and Medellin (Colombia) – for the first time since 2019. The circuit was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic and was reduced to three legs in 2021 because of the Olympics.
“I am planning to go to all of them,” says Schloesser, looking at the calendar. “I am hoping to top or even equal the year I had last year but I am pretty sure there will be some young kids coming up and showing their level, just like Mathias [Fullerton] did last year.”
The Danish 18-year-old currently sits at number two in the world rankings, one spot behind Schloesser.
“I hope that travel will be easier too,” Mike adds, looking back at the COVID-related travel restrictions in place over the past few years. “Plus, I want to spend more time with my archery friends at competitions this year.”
Schloesser is now the joint third-winningest athlete in the history of the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final, tied on three trophies with Korean recurvers Kim Woojin and Ki Bo Bae. Still only 28 years of age, he’s been one of the world’s best for a decade.
And he could, potentially, start to be considered one of the elder statesmen on the circuit.
The up-and-coming Fullerton was one of the archers downed by Schloesser on his way to winning the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final last year. Mister Perfect defeated the Dane, 149-147, in the semifinals after seeing off France’s Adrien Gontier in the quarters, 148-145.
For Schloesser, ending the season on the podium seemed a long, long way away from what he was thinking at the beginning of the year.
“I started off the season with COVID and wasn’t sure if I could even compete in the first World Cup stage,” he reveals. To the handful that knew he’d had the virus, he spoke of fatigue and his struggles during long competition days at the early events of the year.
“Plus, with all the travel restrictions, it was a hard year mentally. In the end, I had a really good season and it was a reward to top off that season by winning the World Cup Final,” says Schloesser. “It was a lot of happiness and relief for me, but I learnt to cooperate with a lot of hassle and insecurity.”
Schloesser enters the season as the leader of the compound men’s world in so many ways.
And he’s not ready to sacrifice that status to the younger generation just yet. But while he is still as motivated as ever to win, Mike has made some changes for a perfect work-life balance.
“Outside of archery my best memory from last year was the vacation that I spent with my wife [Dutch team member Gaby] and dog,” says Schloesser, who started archery in 2000 and won the World Archery Championships in 2013 at the age of 19. “It was the first time since I went fully professional that I went on a vacation longer than two or three days.”
Is the all-time average arrow leader (9.81 in competition over his career) preparing to take things easier in 2022? Well… no.
“But after winning the World Cup Final I feel like nothing much has changed – the hunger and the drive to be better every day is still there,” Mike is quick to add. “The Hyundai Archery World Cup means a lot. I have had good rivalries and I’ve made not only a lot of friends but also some very cool memories.”
The international season begins on 18-24 April with the first stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya, Turkey.