Kristine Esebua’s archery journey from Georgia to Canada
ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT is presented by WIAWIS.
The 38-year-old arrived in Toronto four years ago after being forced to leave her native Georgia alongside her husband and coach.
It is a part of her life so distressing that she is unable to talk in detail, saying only that it is now in the past.
She has since welcomed twins, Elizabeth and Victoria, to the world and has returned to the range in time to represent her adopted nation at the Berlin 2023 Hyundai World Archery Championships.
It is but the latest episode in Esebua’s archery career that has seen her grow up in both Georgia and Ukraine, but it is across the Atlantic that she is now at home.
And the four-time Olympian is determined to fight for a chance to compete at a fifth Games ahead of Paris next summer, this time under the maple leaf flag.
“Being a part of the Olympic Games is the main career goal for every sportsperson,” she said. “I also dream about obtaining the Olympic medal.”
“I was competing as an average-ranking archer in Athens and Beijing but on the other hand, in London and Rio, I was already achieving success and was involved in high-ranking competitions,” she said.
“Unfortunately, during these two Games, I experienced a lack of fortune.”
All four of those appearances at the Olympic Games were representing Georgia, but it is Ukraine where Esebua first gained her archery education.
Born in Khobi in west Georgia, Esebua moved alongside her parents, brother, and sister over 2000 kilometres to Lviv, where World Archery was formed (back when it was called Lwow and part of Poland) in 1931.
It was there that she met her first coach, Monika Simuns, after first picking up a bow alongside her sister on the encouragement of their mother, who had competed during her university days.
Rapid development soon followed as Esebua joined the Ukrainian junior national squad and became two-time European youth champion – individual and team.
Yet a lack of citizenship meant her pathway in Ukraine was uncertain and contact from the Georgian archery federation led to a return to her country of birth.
“I was evolving very slowly as a sportswoman since in Georgia there were not high-class coaches,” she added. “It can be concluded that my success from 2003-2010 was on account of the Ukrainian school.”
A Korean coach radically changed the system of training, which resulted in their success in the very first competition.
An individual silver medal at the 2011 World Archery Championships in Turin remains Esebua’s finest achievement – alongside setting a new standard for Georgian archery.
But that is now behind her, with focus fixed firmly on representing her new nation after returning to the international scene this year after gaining permanent residency in Canada.
“Leaving Georgia was very emotional for me since I was not able to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Games,” she reflected.
After becoming a permanent Canadian resident, Esebua had the opportunity to take part in the world championships in Berlin and two stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup – Medellin and Paris – in 2023 wearing the maple leaf jersey.
“I was very distressed when I was unable to bring the Olympics quota to Canada in Berlin, because I am really interested in participating in the Paris Games,” she said.
“I hope it will be resolved quickly.”