Seoul Olympian Tatyana Muntyan shoots world indoors after 15-year hiatus
Forty-nine year-old Tatyana Muntyan, an Olympian from Seoul 1988, made her grand return to international competition at the World Archery Indoor Championships in Yankton, USA, after taking more than 15 years off from the sport.
“I’m so happy to be back. I don’t feel like it’s been too long or that I’m that old,” said Tatyana, laughing. “I have always been very active, I do a lot of sports and I think my experience in archery is what keeps me going.”
“I want to be at my best, I want to have a successful tournament and see if I can keep adding medals to my international achievements… you never know!”
Born and raised in Chernivtsi, a city in the west of Ukraine, Tatyana first dreamed of becoming a ballerina, and she then tried basketball, dancing, handball and athletics, before picking up a bow when she was 16 years old.
One year and half later, she won her first international competition as a junior in Bulgaria and, not much later, she made it to the Seoul 1988 Summer Olympic Games as part of the Soviet Union recurve women’s team.
“I shot consistently from 1986 to 2000. I became an Olympian in 1988 and, internationally, I won individual and team medals at tournaments such world and European championships,” she said.
“But then, in the 2000s, I needed to figure out many things. I was married, I had my kid, I wanted to be there for my family – and I wanted to keep coaching, too, so I basically needed to find a balance between archery, my private and business life, so I decided it was better to take some time off.”
Tatyana used that time to create her own archery business coaching international teams. She trained archers in Romania, France and went back home to work with the Ukrainian national team.
“I enjoy coaching a lot, I moved from place to pace to do it and it was great. Then, in 2009, I had a very personal difficult time with both my mum and husband passing away. I felt that I was dying with them, so I took some time off until I came to the US,” she explained.
“Archery is a beautiful sport that I can’t let go and being able to be back in the US, to shoot for them after so many years, is great. I feel great.”
Tatyana has shot national tournaments in the US since 2015 and was part of the squad’s Olympic trials for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
She didn’t make that team – but did qualify to represent her new home at these World Archery Indoor Championships in Yankton. Making her return to international competition some 30 years after she shot in the Olympics, Tatyana said, was a “dream come true”.
There are few on the line with such rich experience as Tatyana.
“I have witnessed how much the sport has changed," she said. “Being back makes me feel strong because it means there’s more I can do, that I can be at this level whenever I want and that my experience is important, too.”
Yankton is only Tatyana’s first goal, and she intends to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
She’ll be aged 52 at that time and potentially competing against her own daughter-in-law, Ukrainian Olympian Lidiia Sichenikova, who just had a child with Tatyana’s own son Misha Kostash, who is also an archer.
“They motivate me to stay stronger and to be an example for them and for the upcoming kids in archery,” said Tatyana. “I want people to see that when you work hard, stay focused, consistent and pursue your dreams, you can succeed.”
The 2018 World Archery Indoor Championships takes place in Yankton, USA on 14-19 February.