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GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador – The USA quartet of Cham Chung, Natalie Howell, Christian Stoddard and Alexandria Zuleta-Visser shone brightly for the Stars and Stripes, collecting two team and two individual medals from the South American Open Archery Championship in Ecuador.
Zuleta-Visser returns with gold in the recurve women’s team event, alongside Chung and Howell. She also claimed gold in the recurve mixed team with Stoddard, and then bagged silver in the individual recurve women’s competition. Zuleta-Visser lost out to Colombia’s Karen Juliana Rodriguez Sepulveda 6-4, the same archer who had ended Howell’s hopes at the quarterfinal stage.
Stoddard secured his second gold of the championship on Saturday when defeating Oscar Ticas of El Salvador 6-4. Ticas finished runner-up to Jack Williams in last month’s U.S. Open.
Stoddard, on the eve of the gold medal match, smiled when saying, “He shot really well there, so I’m looking for a little bit of revenge.”
Focus for Howell, Stoddard and Zuleta-Visser turns to indoor season. Stoddard, Zuleta-Visser and Chung then have the resumption of the Olympic Qualification Trials, which return with Stage #3 in April.
For Chung and Stoddard, they also plan to focus on improving their mental game ahead of 2024. Despite winning a team gold, and always eager to improve, Chung admitted, “Mental management has always been fluctuating for me. I just knew throughout this season that I would really want to work on this during the offseason and it’s really something I want to get better at.”
All four archers head home with medals around their necks, and all had nothing but praise for the competition and the country.
“The tournament has been a lot of fun,” said Howell, who gained international experience at the World University Games in China earlier this year. “It’s been run really well. It kind of feels like one of our USAT events.”
Chung and Zuleta-Visser echoed those sentiments, with Stoddard – who shot his personal best during the week – adding, “I think all of us could say we’ve shot pretty well here. It’s not been light on competition and so we’re quite happy to be taking home quite a lot of gold medals.”