Michelle Kroppen keeps home fires burning
Michelle Kroppen’s relationship status with shooting on home turf? It’s complicated.
It is a dialogue between the familiar and the unknown, attention and anonymity, that beguiles even an Olympic bronze medallist of eight years’ international experience.
“When you’re at home, you know the way to walk, to drive, the hotel,” she said.
“I love to shoot in front of big crowds in Germany, when it’s super loud. The whole federation is there, all the newspapers, family and friends come to watch you.”
“But that brings pressure. Sometimes I think it’s good to be by yourself - to have no-one looking at you. To just concentrate on your shot.”
For Kroppen, 2021 was a banner year.
Germany had failed to qualify a women’s team to the Olympics since Athens 2004, but with Kroppen to the fore, they took bronze at the postponed Games in Tokyo.
After the Olympics, she had to spend six months completing her training with the German Federal Police.
It set her back significantly and she finished 33rd on her return to the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit in Antalya.
“I wasn’t able to train as much as I normally do,” she explained. “There was not enough time for me to prepare for that World Cup.”
“It was difficult for me to find myself, my confidence and my rhythm. I didn’t have enough power to deal with my bow and the weather conditions.”
“It was mentally not that easy because the result was not that good. Eventually, I found a way to become stronger, week by week.”
Kroppen improved to finish fifth in Gwangju and then scraped through the domestic qualification process to make the home team for the European Championships in Munich.
She walked away with team gold, silver in the individual and silver in the mixed team.
“It was one of the best events ever for me,” she said. “To get to three gold medal matches in Germany, there is nothing better. Except maybe to do it at the Olympics!”
“It showed me anything is possible. Even if it’s sometimes hard and difficult, there are solutions to quickly become better.”
“I wanted to show everyone it was the right decision to select me. I think I did.”
Boundary-setting was key to her success. Much in demand from family and friends, Kroppen agreed with her sports psychologists not to ‘see her people’ in the evenings between competition days.
She will take that confident approach into her next major home competition – the small matter of the Hyundai World Archery Championships in Berlin in August.
“Archery is not the biggest sport in Germany,” she said. “It grew up a bit after Lisa (Unruh)’s silver medal in Rio, kids came to try out archery because they wanted to be like her.”
“We need some big competitions here to get the support. When we go to Korea the crowds are amazing, I want it to be the same in Germany.”