Compound archers make debut on Pan American Games archery field

7 August 2019
Lima, Peru
A total of 84 archers – 64 recurve and 20 compound – from 17 nations are competing at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.

Twenty compound archers from across the Americans have stepped onto an official Pan American Games competition field for the first time in the Peruvian capital of Lima. Recurve archery has been featured on the programme of these Games since 1979 and here, in its 11th appearance, compound makes its debut.

Among the 10 men and 10 women shooting this tournament is the USA’s world number one ranked man Braden Gellenthien and women’s world number two Sara Lopez of Colombia.

“People might just think it’s not too many but the archers competing here are here because they’ve earned it. It’s a bit like a World Cup Final in terms of number – and it’s another step towards the Olympics,” said Sara.

“We don’t know when that will happen and if it will happen but just being part of the process, and this change, is a great achievement. I’m just happy to be part of the history compound is making here.”

There will be both individual and mixed team medals available for compound archers in Lima.

The Pan American Games is the third continental multisport event to add the bowstyle after the Asian Games in 2014 and now the European Games, where it debuted earlier this summer in Minsk, Belarus.

It will be the closest experience to the Olympics – in terms of environment, organisation and atmosphere – that the compound archers in Lima have experienced. And it’s a huge, satisfying step forward for the sport.

“Having to watch the Pan American Games on TV before, knowing that our continent is so good in compound, was bittersweet. Now having the chance to take part is an amazing experience and little extra motivation to work hard,” said El Salvador’s Roberto Hernandez.

The reigning Central American and Caribbean Champion said Lima has given him the chance to imagine how attending an Olympics might feel. His National Olympic Committee has sent a small, high-quality delegation to Lima. Roberto said that the team management has been focused on getting the smallest details right so the athletes can succeed.

World number one Gellenthien thinks putting on a good show in Lima is critical to ensuring compound secures a longterm foothold at the Games.

“Multisport events like the Pan Ams or the Universiade, where all the athletes from every country and sport are together, show what the sport could be like at the Olympics,” he said. “I’m very excited to be a part of it, to be at the forefront.”

Qualification is about to begin in Lima and some these 20 compound archers will become the first medallist of their kind at the Pan American Games.

The opportunities for the bowstyle – and any potential future on the programme of the Olympics – is clearly in the back of the athletes’ minds. But the attention the sport is receiving Lima and the history they’re making by being the first compound archers to compete in the Games already means a lot. 

The archery competitions at the 2019 Pan American Games take place on 6-11 August in Lima, Peru.