Soto hoping Olympic stage can propel Chilean archery forward
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Eight years on, he hopes to return to the sport’s biggest stage and take home more than just experience.
Bronze on home soil in Santiago capped an impressive year for the 24-year-old, who finished seventh at the Hyundai World Archery Championships this summer.
“It is very satisfying for me to be able to obtain this Olympic quota at the Pan American Games and break with the past, where we achieved it in the last continental repechage,” he said. “Even more so by obtaining the bronze medal.”
Now Soto is intent on making his country proud on the sport’s biggest stage – when competition begins by the Seine next summer.
“My objectives for Paris would be similar to those at the Pan American Games; not to focus on medals or results, but to focus on my performance and my work and with that see what result is obtained.”
Soto will hope to become Chile’s first-ever Olympic archery medallist in Paris next summer, being a surprise entrant to men’s final day in Rio before exiting to eventual fourth-place finisher Sjef van den Berg.
He feels he is stronger for both that experience – and all that has followed – with 2023 ranking as his most successful season yet.
“The Rio experience was very beneficial in my career,” he sadid. “It was a great boost and allowed me to open many doors that have allowed me to get here.”
“Chile is a country with very few Olympic medals, earning one would be a great achievement that would transcend all sports and mark a milestone for archery in Chile.”
A place on the podium is the ultimate goal but Soto is determined to keep his feet on the ground.
The 23-year-old combines his archery with studying nursing at Santo Tomas University, making his victory over the legendary Brady Ellison to seal Pan American bronze all the more impressive.
“This medal is a great pride, above all, to defend the colours of my country as a local, along with my family and the entire Chilean archery family,” he reflected.
“I admire and respect Brady very much and consider him a legend, which made this medal even more satisfactory than it already is.”
Although Ricardo wasn’t able to travel all season, taking part in fewer competitions than he perhaps would have liked, he still recorded career-best results at the season’s two major tournaments.
“Seventh place in the world championship for me was a great achievement, since it is my best result in this tournament and it was also a great prelude to preparing for the Pan American Games,” he said.
Soto first began his archery journey in 2009, competing alongside his brother who coached him for large parts of his career.
After realising his potential to compete at the very top in 2014, he now flies the Chilean flag across the world and hopes his efforts will inspire more of his compatriots to pick up a bow.
“I hope to maintain my level and leave the colours of my country high, in addition to continuing to improve my level.”
In Chile, archery is only practised in a few towns: the capital of Santiago, Linares, Iquique and Arica, where Ricardo lives, studies and trains.
Although there are not many clubs, the facilities – like those used at the Pan Am Games – are good.
“I hope that my result will help the growth of this sport in my country and that new places will be created where it is practised,” he concluded.