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Last week, Khatuna Lorig - Olympic bronze medalist and five-time Olympian in archery - shared on Facebook that she was beginning her Road to Rio. Here's our conversation about Rio, the rising level of talent in archery, and how coaching has shaped her journey:
Please reflect on your 2014 season. What did you like about it, and what would you have done differently?
My 2014 season was difficult. I was recovering from an injury to my hand that really affected my shooting. I had to rebuild my strength to shoot the weight that works best for me and that took more time than I thought it would. To make things easier and faster, I would have shot more in my off-season so as not to lose my strength.
The Road to Rio begins now, according to your recent Facebook post. What steps are you taking now to prepare for the Olympic Trials beginning next year?
This past two years have been a time for me to continue shooting after the 2012 Olympics but also a time to build a revenue stream to allow me to train more. For me, training is a full time job so bringing my workshops across the country has really helped me financially. But now, it's time to settle down and focus on preparing my body and mind for 2016. I am now living full time at the OTC in Chula Vista, eating right, exercising and fine tuning my equipment. Each sunset is another day gone for training and I have to work hard to make sure that day counted.
You were Team USA's highest individual archery finisher at the last Olympic Games. What is your goal for 2016?
It does seem the older I get, the better I am finishing at the Olympics. 5th in 08, 4th in 12 so based on just that, I should look to finish in top 3 in 16. But first I have to qualify for Rio in 2016. That alone is going to take a lot of work and a lot of determination in 2015. There are a lot of competitions in 15 and I need to be ready for each one.
If you make the team, this will be your sixth Olympic Games. What do you think about the level of competition globally for the next Olympic Games?
My team is strong, but I feel confident if I train hard, think straight and focus on my goal, I can make it a 6th time. there is no place like the Olympic village and the atmosphere generated by the athletes, sponsors and spectators. Once you experience that, you HAVE to try next time.
The competition globally is growing stronger and younger. I recently was an Athlete's Role Model for the Youth Olympics in Nanjing and I saw some very talented kids there. And by kids I mean, archers that will be giving it their all next year to try and qualify for their country at Rio.
What is your advice for other female Olympic hopefuls?
The best part about archery is anyone can do it and it builds confidence quickly. That confidence shows in school work, problem solving and interacting with peers. I just posted that "you are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true" I believe that completely. What any archer must understand is it takes hard work, sacrifice and a willingness to face your mistakes. If you can do those three thing, honestly and completely, you can make your dreams come true.
Finally, how has coaching impacted your shooting? Has it helped in any way, and if so, how?
At first, it really helped me financially, and then I realized it helped me take healthy breaks and still concentrate on shooting. Coaching uses a different part of my training and over the past 2 years, I have learned to be more patient and objective with my students, and myself.
At first I was a little afraid of meeting so many people at once, but the clubs and ranges I have visited are full of great coaches and determined students. I have made friends at each workshop that I value greatly.
Follow Khatuna's journey along the Road to Rio by checking out her website.
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