Mexico’s first Olympic medallist Avitia eyeing return at Paris 2024
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Mariana Avitia became Mexico’s first-ever Olympic archery medallist at London 2012 – winning individual bronze only moments before teammate Aida Roman entered the field for her final – and she now has eyes on adding to her collection following the birth of her son.
Avitia was just 18 when she entered Mexican sporting folklore, beating five-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig to secure that historic spot on the podium.
She has not returned to the Games since, taking a break from the sport during Rio 2016 and failing to make the team for Tokyo. But following the arrival of her son Mateo in September 2020, the 30-year-old is targeting an appearance at Paris 2024.
“It is a challenge, a dream and a goal that I want to achieve,” Avitia said.
“The Olympics is the most important competition there can be and it has always been very significant.”
Avitia’s Olympic odyssey began in 2008 when, aged just 14, she was the youngest member of the Mexican delegation – across all sports – in Beijing.
Back then, many of her friends knew little about the sport in which she would be competing, but Mexico has grown into one of archery’s dominant forces in the time since.
“The truth is that I used to talk about archery and nobody knew what it was,” she explained. “After the results of 2012, it was like an impressive boom.”
“Everyone wanted to do this sport and as the years went by, a lot of people became interested in archery.”
Having waited 40 years for one Olympic archery medal, Mexico earned two on the same day in London as Aida Roman earned silver from the final which followed Avitia’s match.
Now everyone in Mexico knows about archery.
“We have grown both as a team and as individuals and it was a very rapid rise. In the blink of an eye, Mexico was in finals,” said Avitia.
At all major events held today – Olympic Games, world championships, World Cups, Pan American Games and Central American Games – the Mexican team is always seen as a contender.
Now 30, Avitia looks back fondly on the moment that changed everything for her and the sport in Mexico.
“Knowing we made history, knowing I made history, is something very cool,” she said.
“The fact that many people recognise you now and many people are obviously motivated to take up this sport simply because they have seen you in a competition at the Olympic Games is incredible.”
Although she has missed several Olympic cycles as an athlete, she is still left with that little nagging feeling of wanting to give more, of wanting to win more.
And in a sport such as archery, where the length of a competitive career can easily span a couple of decades (or even more), there’s little in the way of Mariana making a sensational return to the biggest stage.
“Representing your country for a few minutes is a wonderful thing,” she added.
“So the fact that I am talking about Paris 2024, and being able to fulfil the dream of being an Olympic athlete again and give everything to win another Olympic medal, is great.”
The Mexican women claimed a full slate of three quota places for Paris 2024 when the Olympic qualification process started in August during the world championships in Berlin, where they finished third.
But it was courtesy Aida Roman, Alejandra Valencia and 17-year-old Angela Ruiz – the line-up sent to the German capital.
Although she took part in all the stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup with her teammates in 2023, Avitia was firmly booked in as number four in the squad this season.
Only three archers go to the Olympics. Fourth won’t cut it.
Places for next year’s Games will be at a premium – especially for someone wanting to become a three-time Olympian.
“You set yourself that goal and you want to surpass something you haven’t been able to achieve,” concluded Avitia.