Dutch women qualify first Olympic team since Barcelona 1992

The Netherlands finished second at the European Championships.

The Netherlands are sending a women’s team to the Olympics for the first time in 32 years – and the first time in the quota era.

Before 1996, nations could enter up to three archers who achieved a minimum standard directly. But since Atlanta, teams must win one of the 12 available slots per gender to compete in the Games.

“As a young archer you always dream of going to the Olympics,” says Laura van der Winkel. “And to finally get there now with the team I’ve always dreamed of…”

“I’m just super proud and super happy.”

Gaby Schloesser, van der Winkel and Quinty Roeffen officially booked the ticket when they took silver on Sunday at the European Championships – but the spot was guaranteed two days earlier when the Dutch trio upset the world-champion Germans to book a berth in the final.

“We saw that France won and we immediately knew that we have a ticket,” says Quinty Roeffen.

The three women screamed and hugged at the target. 

France already had a slot for the Olympics so, even if the French team ultimately won the event (which they did), the ticket for the European Champion would be reallocated to second place – the Netherlands.

The team’s rise to relevance was driven by a foreign import.

Gaby moved to the Netherlands from Mexico after marrying top-ranked compound archer Mike Schloesser. She decided then to embrace her new culture, learning the language and switching teams, instantly giving the Dutch squad its first elite recurve woman since Christel Verstegen in the late 90s.

“She’s one of the Dutchies right now,” says van der Winkel.

“She’s taught me and Quinty a lot of lessons, taken us by the hand with the team experience. But in the end, we have to figure it out with the three of us.”

“That‘s what got us this far in this tournament.”

The introduction of an elite role model has undoubtedly pushed van der Winkel, 22, and Roeffen, 18, to perform at a competitive level, and quickly.

“To come to a country where… girls weren’t really shooting at the level you’d expect to see at the Olympics,” says Schloesser. “It‘s amazing to see that in such a short time you can, like, grow something really, really strong and really nice.”

“It’s really nice to be with them.”

Gaby Schloesser and Steve Wijler at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Gaby won a mixed team silver medal, paired with Steve Wijler, at Tokyo 2020.

She was chosen as one of the athletes to represent the Netherlands at the National Olympic Committee’s uniform launch for Paris 2024 last month – it seems a long way from her Olympic debut for Mexico in 2016.

“In Mexico, there were so many good archers, it was easy to get lost in the process,” she says.

“Being in a position [in the Netherlands] where I had to lead a little, it wasn’t always easy especially at the start as I never had to do that before. But we have worked really hard and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together.”

The first Dutch archer to compete at the Olympics was Catherina Floris, who finished eighth in Moscow in 1980.

Jacqueline Van Rozendaal, who currently coaches on the national team, came 23rd at Seoul 1988 and was a member of the only other Dutch women’s team to compete at the Olympics in 1992. Van Rozendaal, Verstegen and Andriana van Dyck lost their first match to Finland.

Verstegen and former USSR athlete Ludmilla Arzhannikova qualified and competed at the Olympics in 1996 – the first to implement the quota system – the last time a woman wore the iconic orange kit (metaphorically in the 90s, since they were all still in white then) until Gaby joined the team ahead of Tokyo.

Now she – and the Netherlands – has got a team again.

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