2015 World Archery Youth Championships
Yankton, South Dakota
By: Karissa Yamaguchi
This was one of my first tournaments in a long time that gave me that excitement of competing. It was a rush, and I loved it. Although we shot in America, this experience was completely unique. Personally, I had never traveled with a full team before, so the dynamic of compounds and recurves, juniors and cadets was new to me. The large group in conjunction with the freedom allowed to us at times felt overwhelming. Since we were in the states the archers had so much more freedom to explore on their own. However, this large group was the best thing to be a part of. When others were down in their matches you could cheer regardless of how well you actually knew them, and when you were down, you could always count on someone cheering for you behind the line.
Everywhere I looked, I could count on finding something unfamiliar. Foreign flags, countries I had never heard of, people I had yet to meet--it all made the experience of being at a World Archery event real. The tension and pressure everyone felt was palpable and slightly nerve racking at the least as we all prepared to shoot our first arrows each day.
Luckily for me, shooting in crazy weather is one of my favorite things. All the extremes, from hot to cold, windy and rainy, arrived to test the archers. For the most part, we all survived. I started with a shaky first qualification round, then ended with a more solid second half to bring me to my average for the tournament year. Matches were a fight against the wind and rain, but my coaches and God pulled me through to a third round. In team matches, we struggled and lost in a one-arrow shoot off to Poland.
Overall, my first WAYC was a success. Although I did not secure any medals for my team, it really helped me see my growth as an archer. All my previous tournaments--lessons, mistakes, fixes--came back to me at times when I needed them most and kept me on track. Despite the strong winds, rain, and complications, I ended 18th in Ranking, 9th individually and 5th with my team--one of my most successful finishes at my first truly international event.
Not only was the shooting great, but the social aspects of the tournament were so much fun. As Jesse Owens once said, “Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust”. Beyond testing myself at the world level, one of the things I love about competing in these tournaments is the friendships I can make. Being on a national team is really about that. Your nation wants you to be excellent, not only in your sport, but also as an ambassador to the countries you encounter.
The tournament organizers also did a great job with all of our extra social gatherings and banquets. We had a beach party, carnival night, dancing, fishing, trading, rock-climbing and even a mechanical bull! These events really showcased what America can be, and all my friends from abroad loved it. It was also really nice to escape from the pressures of competition and the stern fronts we project on the competition field. I made so many great friends who truly care about me and my success, and this tournament was a fantastic opportunity to show them my home.
Thank you so much to all of those who supported me: USA Archery Arizona, my family, my friends and my coaches. None of this could have been possible without this support system and the will of my God.