Antalya 2016: 10 athletes to watch

10 June 2016
Antalya (TUR)
The third stage of the 2016 Hyundai Archery World Cup also acts as the final world qualifier for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

This year’s Hyundai Archery World Cup started in April in Shanghai, then visited Medellin. Next up is the final stage on the shortened tour – four stops rather than three – in Antalya. The Hyundai Archery World Cup Final is scheduled for September in Odense, Denmark.

Antalya 2016 will be the biggest World Cup stage in history. Over 550 archers are entered, breaking the record set in Antalya in 2015 by an incredible 120+ athletes…

…making the competition for the last available spots at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games nothing less than brutal. (There’s three men’s and three women’s team places up for grabs, plus a minimum of six individual spaces.) Competition begins on Monday 13 June, and we’ve picked out some athletes you’ll need to be watching throughout the week…

1. ANE MARCELLE DOS SANTOS 

The athletes of the host team at any Games are scrutinised – and in the lead up to Rio 2016, most of that has fallen on teenage sensation Marcus D’Almeida, who had silver medals at both the Youth Olympic Games and Archery World Cup Final in 2014. Ane Marcelle, saved from the spotlight, has shown flashes.

She previously had a bronze at the Pan Am Championships – back in 2014 – but lead the Brazilian Rio 2016 squad selection before it was cut to four and made her first last-16 at stage two of the tour in Medellin, where she also walked out onto a world finals field for the first time, in the mixed team event, with Marcus.

2. Ukraine’s women

A backstory: One of the most successful coaches in Olympic history, Viktor Sidoruk, stands behind the Ukrainian team. He was once a world champion himself, back in 1973, and first appeared as a coach at the Games in 1976, with the USSR.

He won a surprising recurve men’s team gold with Spain at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 – but Viktor is missing a gold from one of his recurve women’s squads to add to his collection. This trio, which just became European Champion, has yet to qualify a full quota to Rio. (Ukraine has one women’s and one men’s spot.)

Veronika, Lidiia and Anastasia have been training hard for Antalya.

3. Maja Jager

Ranked the 11-best recurve woman in the world, Maja Jager represents a Danish team that is invitation-less to Rio. She was World Archery Champion in 2013 and, despite nagging injury, is the squad’s best chance of a spot after making a first finals appearance of the season in Shanghai.

4. DAN OLARU 

At London 2012, a 15-year-old Dan orchestrated one of the most impressive runs of the Games, making it to the last 16 before being eliminated by the second seed. He was, and remains, extremely easy to root for!

5. French recurvers 

France has no spots at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, as the team arrives in Antalya. And that’s despite JC Valladont just recently claiming the title of European Champion in Nottingham, UK. (The Olympic qualifying eliminations event was separate from the medal-winning matches.)

That’s quite some pressure on what’s widely-regarded as the largest archery federation in Europe.

6. SARA LOPEZ 

Okay, quick disclaimer: Lopez did lose a match recently. At the Pan Am Championships she qualified first, then lost in the quarterfinals in a shoot-off to Mexico’s Stephanie Salinas. That said, in world competition, she hasn’t lost since the semifinals of the World Archery Championships in 2015.

That’s an incredible run of individual gold medals – Mexico City 2015, Shanghai 2016 and Medellin 2016 – that, statistically, can’t continue for much longer… can it?

7. ARENEO DAVID 

Watching Areneo David compete in 2015 and then, a year later, in 2016, was incredible. His style has improved so much. Coach Sally has done incredible work in Malawi, pulling and pushing David, and the others archers there, into sudden relevance through sheer force of will.

David doesn’t need to qualify a Rio place in Antalya. He does need to prove to the Tripartite place selectors (from the Association of National Olympic Committees) that he has developed the competitive level needed to attend the Games.

(Tripartite places are awarded to developing or smaller nations, in order to help spur the development of sport in the countries and ensure universality at the Olympics.

8. BRADY ELLISON 

Qualified and confirmed for his third consecutive Olympics, Brady’s hitting a height in form that we’ve not seen out of him before. He shot a huge qualifying score in perfect conditions in Shanghai, 697 out of 720 points, then backed it up with a 687 in Medellin – which he converted into his first individual gold medal on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit since Lausanne 2014.

Is 2016 the year Brady breaks onto the Olympic podium? (Individually, of course – he had a team silver medal in London.)

9. Mexican men 

At the Americas continental qualifier for Rio 2016, Mexico’s recurve men finished one, two and three. The problem was – they could only win one spot. Fourth-placed at London 2012, the team that would attend Rio is selected, all they have to do is claim one of the three invitations available.

There are 48 men’s teams competing for those three team places in Antalya. (And 27 women’s teams going for the three available spots there.) It won’t be easy.

10. VIKTOR OROSZ 

Seventeen-year-old Viktor makes his Hyundai Archery World Cup debut in Antalya. Maybe it will amount to not much, but Orosz has impressed in junior events over the past three years – and won three world youth titles, including two in a row indoors. He’s got potential.