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Five-time Olympian VALEEVA back shooting internationally after surgery

Veteran of every Olympic Games from 1992 to 2008, Italian recurve woman Natalia VALEEVA returned to the field in Antalya after hip surgery.

“I was ready for Colombia, but after talking to Wietse [VAN ALTEN – Italy’s head coach] I decided to lay low for a while,” said former world number one Natalia. “I took the extra rest.”

As well as individual bronze she won at her Olympic debut in Barcelona, while representing Moldova, Natalia has been indoor archery world champion five times – most recently in 2012 – and won the World Archery Championships at Jakarta 1995 and Leipzig 2007.

It is possibly the most impressive record in international archery.

VALEEVA was last in action at the Belek 2013 world championships. But, after starting last season with a top-eight finish in Shanghai, her individual results slipped as the pain she was shooting with became less and less bearable.

“Right now, it’s the first time in four years I’m shooting without any pain at all,” she admitted. The hip surgery she underwent not only repaired her body, but gave her brain some valuable time to recharge: “I used the time off to get some rest, in my head, and enjoy home without thinking about archery.”

There’s not much that VALEEVA hasn’t already accomplished – but she has never won a World Cup Final medal. The last time she shot the event was in 2008, when it was in… Lausanne!

She came fourth, losing the bronze medal match by a big eight points to Korean YUN Ok Hee. (This was before the days of the set system, when head-to-heads were decided on a straight 12-arrow, cumulative-score match.)

With two World Cup stages still to shoot in 2014, VALEEVA has time to qualify for her second World Cup Final, and her second World Cup Final in Lausanne. But she’ll need to finish well at both events for that to happen.

“I’m ready for the season,” she said, determined. “Hopefully I can stay pain free. My batteries are recharged… and I’m ready to shoot.”

Competition at the third 2014 Archery World Cup stage in Antalya starts tomorrow. Check event news, and visit World Archery’s Facebook page and @worldarchery on Twitter for coverage.