London legacy: Youth Olympian Valentina Vasquez inspired by Games in 2012
It’s been six years since she found her interest in the sport while watching compatriot Mariana Avitia shoot a match during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“I remember I was in the living room with my grandmother. I didn’t know much about her but I imagined myself like her, at the Olympic Games winning a medal, and that’s how it all started for me,” she said.
Ironically, Valentina shares the practice field in Buenos Aires with another Mexican star from those same Games: not bronze medallist Avitia, but silver medallist Aida Roman. Aida is attending the 2018 Youth Olympics as an athlete role model to offer experience and advice to the younger archers competing.
“I already asked her about how to handle the nerves, how to overcome bad situations, and how to manage my emotions,” said Valentina. “Her advice should help me this week.”
The 15-year-old has already proven herself in international competition.
She made her debut in a Mexican shirt at the World Archery Indoor Championships early in 2018. Her second appearance brought an individual gold medal and a cadet mixed team world record with partner Carlos Vaca at the recent Pan American Championships held in Medellin.
With Buenos Aires her third major tournament, Valentina arrives having learned some of the patience and temperament required to perform as a world-class archer.
“I’ve been shooting for six years and it’s been a process of ups and downs, which is normal. You need both for balance. The ups you have to handle properly to stay mentally and physically focused, the downs are where you learn from your mistakes to not make them again,” she said.
Valentina’s passion for archery was born from watching the very highest level of competition. It’s clear she has equally high expectations for her own performance.
“I want a medal and I know I can win one, I’m capable,” she said. “I want gold but so does everyone else. I’ll be happy with any medal because I have worked hard for it.”
The third edition of the Youth Olympic Games takes place on 12-17 October 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.