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Anna Miscione (Ramona, California) has had a rock solid start to an incredibly competitive 2015 season. But for this archer, it's not just about the gold medals: it's about the chance to compete around the world.
At just 17 years old, Anna has made her first podium as a senior at the Easton Foundations Gator Cup last month. Shooting since she was 8 years old, and competing since she was 10, Anna recently kicked her training into high gear.
The extra work paid off: she punched her ticket to the World Archery Youth Championships in Yankton, South Dakota - and finished a solid 6th in the U.S. Team Trials for the (senior) World Archery Championships.
"I always want to see places and go places, and that pushes me to shoot better," Anna explains. "I know that if I practice a lot and I can make these world teams and the Olympic team, I know I'll travel with them."
Her mom, Lisa, agrees: "What drives Anna are the opportunities: she loves to travel, she loves to compete, she loves going to do things. It's not so much about the gold medal at the end of the day as just opening up more opportunities. And that drives her.
"There's constant opportunity for her. If this doesn't work out, then there's another tournament coming upů she looks beyond the immediate to the opportunity, and if she doesn't get one, she's looking to the next. So it's not about the medal at this tournament, it's about the Olympics."
Anna has worked hard to make it so far up the ranks this year; her coach, Jim White, explained that the Junior Dream Team member went from shooting 125 arrows per day to anywhere from 250 to 300, usually six days a week. She's fortunate to live near one of the world's best archery facilities.
"I practice a lot at the Olympic Training Center," Anna explains. "Lately I've been going all weekend, Mondays, and Thursdays just to shoot 70m. After school I just shoot at home-blank bale at 30m just trying to keep my form intact and be comfortable with my shot, see how my equipment is doing, see how I'm doing. It's constant, repetitive practice."
Archery has translated into many benefits in other parts of Anna's life, too. Her mother says that the biggest benefit comes from the increased focus and ability to think only about the present. "Whether it's this or at school, she's learned to separate what she's doing at any given moment in time and to try to let go of other things."
Making the decision to train at an elite level was something Anna chose independently. "I knew that I could go up to that level. I knew if I worked really hard that I could make those teams as well. I had faith in myself, and I think that was a major thing. It sounded like fun and something I could do, so it just kind of happened."
The decision is not without sacrifice; Anna has opted to miss her prom for a competition, and has to work hard to maintain her social life outside of obligations to schoolwork and training. Anna's parents are very supportive, but maintain that academics always come first.
"She has to do well academically; if she wants to pursue this dream, she has to find a balance. She has to manage it. But she's really motivated with school too, she gets straight A's, although she really has to work at it." Anna's father explained, "She impresses me a lot, she does better than I ever would have at 17 years old."
Follow Anna's adventures in archery on social media.
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