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March 08, 2023

On International Women's Day, USA Archery celebrates the female trailblazers past and present

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - As we celebrate International Women’s Day and embrace Women in History Month, it is only right that we acknowledge the role archery has played in breaking down barriers and leading the way in the pursuit of participation equality.

Not only have women and girls been archers for centuries, women have played a tremendous role in growing the sport and captivating audiences. We are thrilled to celebrate trailblazers and champions of the past, as well as recognize the stars making waves today.

From ancient game hunters to 19th Century royalty and aristocrats to today’s global competitors, women have played an integral role in the development and growth of the sport. One of the earliest Olympic sports to permit women’s participation, when added to the Games in 1904, archery has a longstanding reputation as an inclusive sport for women.

Within USA Archery, approximately 40% of the membership is made up of women and 50% of youth members are girls. It is predicted that women and girls will continue to thrive and push archery forward.

“USA Archery proudly celebrates women’s participation and achievements in the sport of archery”, commented Mary Emmons, Chief of Sport Performance and Operations. “USA Archery is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation for all athletes from the beginner to the elite level.”

Modern history highlights how much archery opened doors for women in sports, shattering societal expectations of the day. In 1961 Inger Frith, a Denmark-born British archer, became the first female president of an international sports federation and was influential in archery returning to the Olympic fold in 1972 after a 52 year absence.

Closer to home, the USA has been a world leader in championing women in sport, with archery very much at the forefront of that particular charge.

From Matilda ‘Lida’ Howell, a triple Olympic champion in 1904, to Lindsey Carmichael, who claimed bronze at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.

From Eliza Pollock, at 63 years and 333 days the oldest woman to win Olympic gold - when competing in the team event at the 1904 Games – to teenage talent Liko Arreola, who last year became a double 50-meter U18 compound women's world record holder at the age of just 15.

Team USA Archery has a rich history of successful female archers.

Doreen Wilber won the women’s gold medal when archery was reintroduced to the modern Olympic program in 1972, and Luann Ryon followed in her footsteps, winning gold at the Montreal 1976 Games.

Ryon sadly passed away last December. She was, like so many others to have gone before, both a pioneer and an inspiration. Unable to find an available tennis class, she reportedly started archery at Riverside Community College in 1971. Five years later, at 23 years old, Ryon won an individual gold in Montreal. (No American woman has won a gold medal at the Olympics since).

Ryon (pictured above) subsequently won the World Championship in Australia in 1977, and notched two gold medals at the 1983 Pan-American Games in Venezuela.

Denise Parker was just 14 years of age when she competed at her first of three Olympic Games, in Seoul in 1988, where she won team bronze alongside Melanie Hull and Debra Ochs. She went on to compete in Barcelona (1992) and Sydney (2000). Parker also served as the CEO of USA Archery from 2009-2017.

Other notable greats include three-time Olympians Janet Dykman and Jennifer Nichols, and two-time Olympian Judi Adams.

More recently at Tokyo 2020, there were fourth place finishes for Mackenzie Brown at the Olympic Games and Lia Coryell at the Paralympic Games. Coryell would go on to claim gold at the World Archery Para Championships in February 2022.

Coryell may have retired last year, but her impact is immeasurable. As an MS warrior and veteran, she has made a name for herself as a world champion archer, an inspirational coach on and off the field, and an overall fighter with true grit.

She competed in the 2016 and 2020 Paralympics, as well as four consecutive World Archery Para Championships. After winning gold in 2022 as the first and only W1 woman archer on Team USA she said, “This is for all the kids that got picked last in kickball or made fun of in the lunch line. I didn’t even become an athlete until age 50, and now I’m a world champion! It’s never too late to rebel with intention.”

Casey Kaufhold turned 19 on Monday, yet already has a long list of honors to her name, including a World Championship silver medal, gold at the 2022 World Cup, as well as double gold at the 2019 Pan American Games. Add to this list the names of Paige Pearce, Linda Ochoa-Anderson, and Alexis Ruiz, who continue to strive for excellence. All are inspiring the young girls who will become the next generation of archers.

To keep up with our amazing women archers, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Read more about our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and access.

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