Spotlight Belarus: European Games hosts look to repeat success of 2015
As well as the imminent 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships, teams shooting in Antalya are preparing for the upcoming European Games in Minsk, Belarus. The Games follow just a week after ’s-Hertogenbosch, continuing an international calendar that’s been perhaps the busiest yet.
Not surprisingly, the host nation of Minsk 2019 is shooting at this tournament in Turkey.
Belarus has form at the European Games – if we can take form from the single previous edition. Anton Prilepov won individual bronze at the inaugural multisport tournament for Europe, which was held in Baku in 2015.
He had some impressive performances on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit that year, too. In Wroclaw, Prilepov impressed before a slightly unlucky semifinal against Zach Garrett – but recovered to take individual and mixed team bronze, the latter with Alena Kuzniatzova.
The Belarussian recurve women’s team also podiumed at the European Games in Baku, losing only a narrow final to Italy to leave with silver.
Ekaterina Timofeyeva played a role in that squad – and in the one that came second at the World Archery Championships in Belek in 2013, Belarus’ finest result at a world event to date.
She’s in Antalya for the third stage of the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup - but as head coach.
“It’s been a little quiet for Belarus since the last [European Games], but I think Karyna Kazlouskaya is our best chance of a medal,” said Ekaterina. “She won the [European] Grand Prix in Bucharest [in April].”
Kazlovkaya beat Spanish archer Alicia Marin to the recurve women’s gold medal at that event.
Their results at this tournament will inform the selection of the team for the worlds, where Belarus has entered the full six athletes – three recurve men and women – plus one compound man.
Belarus is a country of 10 million inhabitants and archery has a small but healthy ecosystem, with traditional and 3D holding some popularity.
“Compound is becoming popular,” said Timofeyeva. “Archery is not a huge sport in Belarus. Hockey is very popular, as are tennis and wrestling. We probably have around 400 or 500 competitive archers.”
The archery event in Minsk’s Olympic Sports Complex at the European Games will likely encourage that number to rise. Especially if the home team finds success.
“The qualification will be on a football field. The finals, we’ve shot there before at the national championships, which was a test event for the European Games,” said Ekaterina.
“Do we have any advantage? Well… I hope this experience will be good for our team. I’m optimistic, of course. I hope we can produce our very best. And we will see what comes from that.”
Belarus’ team head home for a couple of weeks after Antalya. Then, for the team chosen after this tournament, it’s a trip to Den Bosch for about 10 days – before they return home for perhaps their biggest event of the season.
The archery competition at the second European Games starts on Friday 21 June 2019.