Grounded Gibson retaining focus after breakout season in 2022
Ella Gibson always expected to be world number one – but she never thought she would get there so soon.
The 22-year-old enjoyed a meteoric rise last year, moving from outside the top eight to the top of the rankings, usurping long-time number one Sara Lopez with a symbolic victory over the legendary Colombian at the World Games in July.
It was the first time the pair had shot against each other and the win announced Gibson as the new leader in the compound women’s world.
But that is not how Gibson looks at it, with the Brit determined to stay grounded amid her rapid ascent to the summit.
“It’s always been in my plan and part of my goals to be world number one, but I didn’t quite anticipate on achieving it last year,” said Gibson. “It was a five-year plan, and I am three years ahead of that goal, so it’s a bit early but very cool to have and hopefully I can maintain it.”
Ella doesn’t necessarily agree that she is the one to beat.
“I had a great season last year and I am world number one but there are multiple other women that are just as good and just as capable as me,” she said.
“There are probably five to 10 people you could call that on any day, so you just have to do your best on the day and focus on winning each match.”
It is a mentality that belies Gibson’s relative youth and inexperience, having only debuted at the senior level in 2019.
Yet for all of her calm and steady outlook, the Brit’s three-year rise to the summit has been built on a relentless desire to win.
But that is balanced by a strong sense of perspective that has had to be developed quickly, with Gibson only shooting in her first Hyundai Archery World Cup Final last year.
“I am quite an impatient person, so I always want to be the best and I want to be the best now,” she explained. “I want to win everything now but realistically I know that’s silly.”
“You do have to step back a little bit and know you can’t have everything instantly; as much as you want everything right now, some things will take time and you have to accept that you can’t be everything all at once.”
That impatience certainly hasn’t hurt her rise from an unknown debutant in 2019 to the top of the ranking list in 2022. Less than three years – it’s fairly fast. She wants it all. Now. And she’s putting in the effort to make sure she gets it.
“I am going to train and work my hardest to try and make that happen as much as possible, but some days you could shoot incredibly and still might not win,” the world number one said.
“It’s asking a lot of yourself to be absolutely perfect; you will make a mistake every now and again. Things like perspective are really important to have.”
Having initially aimed to end 2022 inside the world’s top eight, Gibson now has much loftier ambitions.
She missed out on the Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion title – to Lopez – despite winning all three of the stages in which she competed, prior to the season-ending event in Tlaxcala. Gibson was runner-up.
The 22-year-old is stronger for the experience, however, admitting nerves almost got the better of her ahead of her first Hyundai Archery World Cup stage final appearance, last year in Antalya, and has now developed a steely mentality in the hope of claiming more medals this year.
“I am not going to get ahead of myself,” she insisted. “Of course, I want to win everything and stay world number one, but I want to give myself some breathing room and not stress over winning everything I go to.”
“I am just trying to maintain top eight everywhere, I would like some finals, I would like some medals. I would like to win a medal at every event, but if it doesn’t come from the individual [competition], that’s okay.”
One year ago, the inexperienced Gibson was nervous – shaking – in the arena.
“My mentality has been don’t focus on winning and beating your opponent because you get wrapped up in the match but focus on shooting your arrows at your level and if they are going to beat your level, rather than you lowering yourself to whatever they are shooting at,” she explained. It’s a mistake she’s made before.
“I have gone into a match and focused on the match and dragged myself down,” she explained.
“I have slowly learned to remove myself from the situation and stick to my level. If I can shoot to that level, and I still lose, then fair enough.”