This has been a big year for archer Olivia Sloan.
The 17-year-old who is in year 13 at Christchurch Girls’ High School will head to Madrid this week where she will compete at the WA World Youth Championships.
“I’m really looking forward to it. We will have a couple of days to climatise when we arrive and then we will be straight into it.”
The youngster first picked up the bow and arrow as an 11-year-old. She was inspired to after watching the event at the 2012 London Olympics.
“I had some coordination issues when I was younger because I have mild dyspraxia so I thought I was just going to be someone who was never going to be good at sport.
“Before I started archery, I watched it in the 2012 London Olympics and thought it looked so graceful and powerful.
“Around the same time the first Hunger Games movie came out. My brother and I used to make bows in our forest and shoot kebab skewers, so when I found out there was a local archery range called Aimtru Archers I immediately joined and began training.”
The successful Aimtru Club in Mandeville, North Canterbury, has produced other New Zealand representative archers including Olivia Hodgson who with Adam Kalunzy earned a quota spot for New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics and Ryley Griffiths who will join Sloan in Madrid.
Earlier this year at age 16, Sloan competed at the 2019 NZ Archery senior rep trials. She won the event shooting up two age groups – she is in the under 17 division and shot in the 21+ division. The win put her in the top ranked spot in the 2019 women’s recurve NZ team.
Following that, Sloan was the youngest ever New Zealand archer to compete at the Archery World Championships. She was part of a team of three other women who competed at the event in the Netherlands in June.
“That was such an amazing experience, I was able to shoot alongside my idols in the competition which is viewed as the pinnacle of archery.
“My performance in the selection event also meant I had qualified to compete in any of the Archery World Cups this year.”
This is the last year Sloan qualifies as a cadet archer so she is trying to make the most of youth competitions like the Youth World Championships.
Sloan said for her the ultimate goal is to represent to New Zealand at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“All the competitions I have done this year and all the work I have done in the last few years has been to represent New Zealand at the 2020 Olympic Games.
“New Zealand has a mixed teams Olympic quota spot (one male and one female) and fulfilling the requirements to go include showing you can compete at an elite level which is what I have been campaigning for this year.”
Sloan has recently returned from Tokyo where she represented New Zealand at the ‘Ready steady Tokyo’ test event.
“I got to compete on the range and finals venue where the Olympic archery will be held next year alongside 64 of the world’s Olympic hopefuls.”,
Sloan said this year she has competed with many of the archers that that she grew up watching.
“I have had a lot of growth as an athlete and as a person in the last few years and in particular at the Tokyo test event, as it was so exclusive.
“I have realised that I am up there with these world class archers and I only need to make minor improvements, a few points each end.”
Part of that growth has also come from the experiences she has had from travelling around the world.
“The travel has been amazing. I love to see different cultures and learn about different ways of life. It’s been great to get out of the touristy areas and truly see some of these countries and their unique cultures.
“Learning about these different cultures has actually inspired me to connect with my own. I have been learning more about my Whakapapa and Maori heritage which has been awesome.”
Sloan who holds seven New Zealand records, said although her life is busy, she still prioritises her school work.
She gets good grades and works ahead to make sure she doesn’t fall behind while she is away competing.
“I don’t want to be worrying about school when I’m competing, so I make sure everything is up to date before I leave. Time management is really important.”
“I am very passionate about archery and have had to be very determined and committed to achieve my goals.”
Words: Kim Nutbrown.