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ON THE RANGE – Shiori Monzo, left and Delia Therriault at the archery range of the U15 Gymnasiade at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The competition took place Aug. 19-27.

Yukon archers taste success in international competition

Two Yukon archers competed in an international high school competition in Brazil recently.

By Morris Prokop on September 5, 2023

Two Yukon archers competed in an international high school competition in Brazil recently.

The U15 Gymnasiade took place in Rio de Janeiro Aug. 19 to 27 as part of the International School Sport Federation 2023 U15 High School Multi-Sport Competition.

Shiori Manzo participated in the Recurve Girls category, and Delia Therriault was in Compound Girls. Since it was a U15 competition, 13, 14 and 15-year-olds were all together in the same category.

Andrew Jansen, a Physical Education Teacher from F.H. Collins, and Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle Archery Instructor Ilgin Kizilgunesler accompanied the girls on their journey to the South American country.

Kizilgunesler is from Turkey and came to the Yukon to be a full-time archery coach for the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle.

“I did archery growing up myself. So I had some background in it before entering into this role.”

“It was a good opportunity for them,” said Kizilgunesler of the Brazil experience.

She explained that normally athletes go through their national organizations, but Sport Canada hasn’t been participating for a few years in this event.

“So we had an opportunity to go as a school delegation,” explained Kizilgunesler.

They applied to enter the event.

“They allowed us to enter as a directly applying school (DAS).”

F.H. Collins entered as a school delegation, since the girls were registered in that high school.

Therriault and Monzo were not only representing F.H. Collins and the Yukon.

“Because there was no other delegation coming from Canada, we were kind of there representing Canada,” related Kizilgunesler.

She said the event went well for the girls.

“I think they had an immense opportunity to see other countries and other archers in that event, which is not usually possible unless you participate in a tournament representing the national teams. So it was a high level competition for them to see, which is not available in the Yukon.”

Therriault in particular had a successful competition.

“I think they were just very happy to be there and just to get to experience – I think the result wasn’t something that they had in mind, especially Delia’s, but I think she was really happy that she was able to shoot one of her best scores there, and ended up with a bronze medal.”

Monzo, 13, was the youngest one in the archery competition.

“We celebrated her birthday at the competition. It was Aug. 20,” recalled Kizilgunesler. “It was more overwhelming I guess for her to be there and experience this, far away from her family and spending a week away from her family. But by the end of it, they were both very happy and met and made a lot of friends from different countries. I think that’s kind of brought up the spirit of this event.”

The organizing committee had a cultural day where they gathered all the competitors from all of the sports and organized tours for them, which included Maracanã Stadium, Praia Vermelha, and Copacabana Beach.

“We just walked around there and took some pictures,” said Kizilgunesler.

Next year’s event will be for 16 to 18-year-olds. Yukon archers’ participation will depend on whether Sport Canada decides to send a team. If not, Yukon schools can apply as a DAS again.

“If the opportunity exists, then I think we will take it again,” remarked Kizilgunesler.

She added, “It was really great to see the kids experience it and make the friends that they made. They started the week with a little bit of a sadness of being away but then by the end of it they were sad to leave.”

Regarding the 2023 Canadian Outdoor Target Championships in Victoria in early August, in which seven archers competed in different categories, with four of them making it to the finals (Monzo won gold in the U15 Recurve Female category), Kizilgunesler said, “It was a really good achievement for us and, and I guess it was a good motivation for us as instructors and also for archers to continue our work, so that was good.

“For the kids, it was a really good year for them to accelerate the pace … starting off with Arctics and the Canada Games and nationals, it kind of gained a good pace for them and prepared them for the next one.

“This works so well for us, four major competitions in the year. It’s something that we kind of struggled to find, but it was really good to have it this year and I think they have learned a lot.”

A bit of a break in competition is up next for the young archers.

“We’re gonna go back to indoor shooting by the end of this month,” said Kizilgunesler.

The next competition (besides the Vegas Shoot) for the Yukon archers will be the indoor nationals in March.

Of the Vegas Shoot, Kizilgunesler said, “I think that’s going to be more of a private event than a team competition. Probably some archers will go on their own.”

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