Danelle Wentzel is taking aim at the world’s top 10 after finding herself ranked at No11 in the latest compound category (50 metres) lists released.
The University of Pretoria archer made South African sports history last year when she won the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya. She became the first local archer to do so and it meant she qualified to compete in the World Cup finals in Moscow. Only the top eight men and women archers in each of the international categories were in action.
‘What was unique is that I got to compete against men during the smaller tournaments. Ever so often, I was able to hold my own against them. It led to me getting quite a few top-three finishes which were huge confidence boosters.
‘Getting to compete against men forced me to change my mindset. Men usually believe they can’t miss. It is the opponent who is going to make a mistake. I wanted to prove them wrong. I realise now that when you can limit your mistakes, you will always have a real chance to win.
‘If you had asked me straight after how I felt about my performance, I probably would have told you that I failed. When, however I thought things through afterwards I realised I had shot only two bad arrows during the first round. It was what prevented me from going through to the next round.’
Now that she’s ion the brink of the world’s top 10, Wentzel says she has her sights set on continuing her career in the United States once the lockdown restrictions around Covid-19 have made it safe to travel.
She had competed in the USA earlier this year, where a highlight was finishing second during the Midwest Indoor Tournament (20 metres). According to her, a big positive about being an archer in the USA s that you can compete nearly every week.
‘Archery is really a popular sport in the USA. Even in some of the smaller tournaments, you get to compete against some of the world’s best archers. Some claim that it is sometimes more challenging to win a big competition in the USA than it is to win a World Cup-event,’ said the Tuks archer.
Alexis Ruiz (USA) is currently the world’s best female compound archer while Paige Pearce (USA) is ranked third.
‘The important thing is that I have learned a lot. I am now more motivated than ever. The goal is clear. I am going to compete in the “final” again. I know I am capable of getting a better result. That is why it is essential to base myself in the USA.’
Wentzel completed her BA Sport and Leisure and Recreation Management studies at the end of last year. ‘There is a good reason why I studied what I did. Hopefully, it will enable me to find work in the USA’s archery industry. I can help organise an event or to market it. If I do, I can keep on competing.’
Photo: Reg Caldercott/Supplied