Van der Ven no hero as Paris approaches

Rick van der Ven at Gwangju 2022

We called it a ‘hero arrow’ but it’s not for the man who shot it.

With one second remaining on the countdown clock, Rick van der Ven shot a 10 to take the recurve mixed team title with Gaby Schloesser at the European Championships in Munich just over a week ago.

And that’s just his part of the deal.

“Mine just happened to be the one everybody remembers as it was the last 10 in the last second,” said van der Ven about that arrow, speaking as h was travelling to Paris for the third stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup, which gets underway on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a ‘hero arrow’ as we both shot equal points during the entire final and both shot a 10 with our last arrows. But, luckily, that was exactly what we needed and, of course, it is nice to end with two 10s when you need them the most.”

This season has seen impressive team results for the recurve men’s world number 16 – recurve men’s team bronze in Antalya, mixed team bronze in Gwangju and then that continental gold in Munich.

“It is nice to see that we can win medals already, two competitions in a row,” said the 31-year-old about his mixed team medals with Schloesser and team medal with Gijs Broeksma and Steve Wijler.

Individually, it’s a different story.

Rick van der Ven at Munich 2022 with Gaby Schloesser

In Antalya, van der Ven finished 33rd after shooting 662 points in qualifying. He followed that up with an agonising fourth in Gwangju, his best individual spot so far on this year’s circuit.

“I haven’t changed anything,” he said about the distance between the two finishes. “Antalya was just a bit iffy and I couldn’t hit enough 10s to compensate the arrows that landed out of the gold. They were close, but they just didn’t hit the 10 line. In Gwangju it all connected, the feeling of my shots was also better compared to Antalya and that showed in the results.”

And the difference between the individual and team results?

“In teams there are just 16-24 arrows or so and are even less who have two or three good archers,” he explains. “Individually, you have a lot more guys that can win a medal so the odds of winning there are a bit more slimmer, still there but smaller.”

“Also, in the team round you win three rounds and you are in the medal matches, individual you need to win five to be in the Sunday matches.”

Those Sunday matches in the arena. There are three on offer for Rick in the French capital: individual, mixed team and team.

“The goal is always to get a medal, but there are multiple factors that can influence the outcome of the competitions,” he said. “We do have a strong team, it just has to connect at those team competition days and then we have a good opportunity to walk away with a medal.”

He reiterated that the margins in the individual events are tighter.

"Most of the matches will be decided by a one-point difference so they will be close, but that is also the fun side. Matches can be 10s and close together and you know you will have to bring your best to advance to the next round. This will also make you a better archer, regardless if you win or lose,” said Rick.

Looking further ahead, a lot further ahead, Paris is a word that has recurve archers thinking forward to 2024. That’s when the next Olympic Games will take place in the French capital and van der Ven is looking to move on from his disappointment of missing out on selection for Tokyo 2020 and cement a place in the next Dutch Olympic squad.

“It’s still a long way out, but hopefully we can grow further and get even better and get more consistent as we get closer to it,” he said. “The first step is to qualify and after that, we will see who will participate in the mixed team competitions before it and at the Games themselves.”

Rick is shooting an average arrow of 9.21 points this season, close to his all-time best of 9.25 in 2019.

It’s something of a comeback season for the veteran Dutch archer – but one that is flying somewhat under the radar in a team with Mike Schloesser. Mister Perfect has won two of two Hyundai Archery World Cup stages this season, plus the European Championships, and is husband to Rick’s mixed team partner, Gaby.

It’s a compound-recurve combination relationship that’s all-too-familiar for van der Ven.

“It’s the same at my home,” he says, laughing. His wife is five-time Hyundai Archery World Cup stage medallist Inge van der Ven, previously van Caspel.

Van der Ven then revealed that Gaby also picks up a compound from time-to-time in the Schloesser household,  before turning his attention to her husband.

“It is always a joy to see Mike shoot,” he says. "He makes it looks so natural and easy when he shoots a 30 in 50 seconds and is off the line already,” said Rick. “Next to that, he is a great guy and ready to help if needed. If somebody needs some tips, advice or help with their bow you can always ask him. He is just a great person.”

Could we see more Dutch success this week in Paris? Competition starts on with compound qualifying on Tuesday afternoon. Rick, Gaby and the recurves will shoot qualification on Wednesday afternoon.