Ellison and Brenk setting records and enjoying life in Slovenia

Toja Ellison + Aljaž Matija Brenk broke the Slovenian mixed team record at the 2022 Veronica's Cup

Qualification at the 2022 Veronica’s Cup in Kamnik yesterday was a career-day for the Slovenian compound pair of Toja Ellison and Aljaz Brenk.

Shooting at home, the duo were in blistering form with Ellison shooting a 709 in the compound women’s individual and Brenk a 712 in the men’s individual to record their personal competition bests.

“Actually my career best was 709, or actually 710 before, because I just shot that in Slovenia - that is wrong in the World Archery system, you tell them,” joked Ellison to the on-site interviewer in the northern Slovenian town.

With his 712, Brenk left behind his previous personal best of 699 by 13, and, in a day which he described as “couldn’t be more amazing”, according to his Instagram post, he also equalled the national record and broke the Slovenian qualification (2117) and eliminations (235) record.

That 712 was a score he knew he had within him.

“For the last three weeks at our national team training, I was shooting all the time good scores and I knew I could shoot that [qualification] score,” said the 18-year-old who won the 2021 World Archery Youth Championship. “I was just shooting calm, I just needed everything to be perfect and it happened.”

The combined result of 1421 was a new European record - still to be ratified - and with that, a new Slovenian record, so was it all the more sweeter that it was made on home soil?

"Yeah, it is,” says Ellison. “It’s fun to see my friends again, friends that I haven’t seen in a long time because I don’t live here anymore (Toja lives in the USA). It’s always special because there’s so much support and to shoot good on home soil and support my country with it, is awesome.”

Toja Ellison and Aljaž Matija Brenk at the 2022 Veronica's Cup

Two weeks ago, at the opening stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya, the pair combined to win mixed team silver and since then, have had time to reflect on that early-season success.

“As far as the mixed team goes, I’m super-confident,” said the 28-year-old Ellison. “It’s awesome to have Aljaž and other boys that are coming up as well. It’s just it’s fun to shoot with them. They’re good and they’re improving every day, so that’s good.”

“It’s still an amazing feeling,” added Brenk. “I’m so happy for this medal. It is one goal in my archery career, I just want to grow every time to make better scores and make better achievements, that’s all I want.”

“After the Veronica’s Cup I will start to training for Paris. My biggest goal is the European Youth Championships.”

Toja Ellison at the 2022 Veronica's Cup

For world number three Ellison, the year has started with success after success. World Indoor Series champion in February, world record breaker and world cup silver medallist in April and now her all-time competition qualification best.

But as she revealed to World Archery in February, the amount of events this year will be a little curtailed, as she splits her focus between the sport and her young son.

“I will, unfortunately, not be going to European Championships and any other World Cups this year, because I’m a mum now and it’s too much travelling for Ty (her son),” she said.

“I want to keep doing what I am doing. I will be at the World Field Championships and the World Games and I’m hoping to perform good.”

“The bar has been rising, it’s crazy,” she said about the unprecedented level of quality within the compound women’s discipline. “I’m kind of happy that I feel like I’m going with that bar. I will just keep working really hard and I hope I can keep pushing that bar further up with the other girls.”

Quotes courtesy Jaka Komocar