Lopez names biggest competitors ahead of World Cup opener

Sara Lopez shoots during practice in Yankton.

Sara Lopez has won more Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion titles than any other athlete in the circuit’s 15-year history, having collected her sixth trophy at the end of 2021.

She’s been the sport’s dominant force for the best part of a decade – but her competitors are catching up. With the international tour’s 16th season just days away, we got in touch to find out who she considers the greatest threat to her reign in 2022.

“Me. My fears, my doubts, my mind,” is the first answer given by the 26-year-old, who was open about her struggles with target panic last season. “I think I’m winning the battle. We will see what happens at the events.”

And when pushed to name someone else?

“There’s a long list. Toja [Ellison], Tanja [Gellenthien], Ella GibsonAndrea BecerraDafne Quintero,” she quickly comes up with a handful who are difficult to disagree with.

“Everyone is shooting amazing, but those names are the ones that pop in my mind right now.”

Ellison nearly beat Lopez in the title match at the last Hyundai Archery World Cup Final. Tanja, for the first time in their careers, shot a higher average arrow than Sara in 2021.

Ella just broke another European record.

And Andrea and Dafne are aptly filling the void in the Mexican team left by Linda Ochoa-Andersons still-recent defection to the USA.

“They’re shooting amazing and that’s alright,” says Sara. “Because that makes me shoot better as well. So we will see what happens.”

“I’m pretty sure we will see some surprises this year, especially from Latin America, El Salvador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala,” she continues. “Trust me when I say that we will see some different faces winning. We will see Latin American flags on the podium this year.”

Mexico isn’t travelling to the first stage of this year’s Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya – but Sara, with a small Colombian contingent, is.

We’ll find out soon enough whether it’ll be a fresh set of faces on the podium or ones we’re more used to. Competition in Turkey starts on Tuesday 19 April with compound qualifying.