Mexico’s Valencia crowned first three-time Pan Am Games Champion

Alejandra Valencia celebrates winning the Pan American Games in 2023.

The USA’s Jackson Mirich and Alejandra Valencia of Mexico took the recurve titles on the last day of competition in Santiago, as Valencia became the first archer in history to win individual gold at three Pan American Games.

She pulls ahead of Darrell Pace, Denise Parker and Jennifer Nichols, who have all won twice.

“My coach said to me, ‘do you have any idea what you just did?’ I said no,” said Alejandra after collecting the historic medal. “He told me and the truth is, I’m just happy because I stayed focused on doing my job.”

“I’m on a good path.”

Alejandra was the top recurve women’s qualifier at this event, although she tied the USA’s Casey Kaufhold on score over the 72-arrow 70-metre ranking round. (Both shot 674 points.)

Kaufhold was upset by Ana Machado in the semifinals while Valencia went largely unchallenged during eliminations.

“I always try to focus more on myself, not who I’m against, because who I shoot against doesn‘t change how I need to perform. Just because I’m going against this person, I’m going to shoot less? No. I’m against myself,” said Valencia.

The Mexican archer beat Machado in the final in four sets, closing with a perfect 30. 

Valencia is now the most decorated individual athlete in archery’s 44-year history at the Pan American Games.

She first took the recurve women’s gold medal in 2011 before winning it again in 2019. Alejandra also collected a team gold in 2011, team silvers in 2015, 2019 and 2023, mixed team bronze in 2019 and silver in 2023.

The result caps a phenomenal season for the 29-year-old, who was runner-up at the Hyundai World Archery Championships and at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final held in her hometown of Hermosillo, in the northern Mexican state of Sonora.

“[Now comes] rest. It was a very, very, very hectic year,” she said, coming off the podium in Santiago. “We achieved so many results and so many things we wanted. So now comes rest.”

Mexico almost had a second individual winner on the last day of competition – but after upsetting Brady Ellison in the semifinals, Matias Grande couldn’t muster enough in the last set of the gold medal match to put pressure on Ellison’s teammate, Jackson Mirich. Grande started with an eight, Mirich shot three perfect 10s to finish.

The 22-year-old, appearing in his first full senior season, becomes the eighth US recurve man to win the Pan Am Games.

“I’m really happy with how I performed. I couldn’t have asked for better opponents,” said Mirich. “I felt confident, I knew that I could shoot well enough. I just wasn’t sure what he’d shoot. I just did my best and fortunately came out on top.”

Chile collected a home podium, courtesy Ricardo Soto’s third place after he beat Ellison in the bronze medal match.

Chile and Mexico also collected recurve men’s quota places for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, as did the USA as winner of the recurve mixed team competition (the country had already qualified a woman), joining recurve women’s ticket winners Brazil and Colombia.

Recurve podiums: 2023 Pan Am Games

View full results on the event site.

Recurve men

  1. Jackson Mirich, USA
  2. Matias Grande, Mexico
  3. Ricardo Soto, Chile

Recurve women

  1. Alejandra Valencia, Mexico
  2. Ana Machado, Brazil
  3. Casey Kaufhold, USA