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After 120 arrows of qualification and 7 round robin matches, Crystal Gauvin found herself in a dead tie with five time Olympian Khatuna Lorig for the final spot to make the U.S. team for the 2018 World Archery Indoor Championships. A tiebreaker match in sudden death would decide who would compete on the world stage with the flag across her chest.
"I was up there shaking and my heart was beating through my chest. They had music playing through the matches earlier in the day, but it was off then and you could hear a pin drop it was so quiet. I could feel and hear all my nerves and I felt like I couldn't even hold the bow on the target," shared Gauvin. "I wanted this team so bad, it was such a huge goal for me this year that I was more nervous than I've ever been in archery in my life. I've shot gold medal matches at world cups, world championships, the whole nine yards and I have never been as nervous as I was in that match."
With a 6-0 shutout victory, closing with a perfect 30, Gauvin sealed her fate and spot on Team USA.
Gauvin had a meteoric rise to compound archery success in recent years, but last year made the switch to recurve. She commented: "I felt that for me, I had done everything I really wanted to do with compound. Of course there are always more goals and more challenges - I don't hold world records, and I didn't win this tournament or that tournament, but I had multiple world cup medals, went to the world cup final both tries, had world championship silver medals both indoors and outdoors."
The realization came for Gauvin when she was working with a student on her goal sheet for the year: "We go through goals and then go through the sacrifices it will take to reach them. When I started thinking about myself, I realized I'm giving up all this time away from my husband, money at a job that might not have as much flexibility as my current one, all for what? To go to another world cup, win another medal. I've been number 2 in the world number 1 in the U.S. Was it worth all those sacrifices? For me personally, it wasn't."
She continued: "I've always had the dream growing up a swimmer to go to the Olympics. I knew that for me, if I was going to continue sacrificing everything that I was, I had to have a bigger dream goal than just more medals at events I've already attended. That meant switching to recurve and going to the Olympics."
The switch was a great challenge in many ways. "There are people that I really respect who strongly felt I shouldn't switch. When you respect someone, especially when they've been in the sport a lot longer than you have, it really makes you question deep down, 'am I doing the right thing?' That was something I had to overcome, and then there were also the general naysayers saying it can't be done. That fueled me to say, yes, it can be done."
On making the team, Gauvin said this accomplishment is confirmation and reassurance that she did the right thing. "For me this was a big goal for the year and a big step in my journey towards Tokyo. To some people, it may not seem like a big deal because it's an indoor event and it's not what we shoot [in the Olympics] but for me it was confirmation that I can shoot against our best women and make teams."
Late last fall, Gauvin went out to Chula Vista to train with National Head Coach KiSik Lee. "Basically, I worked with Coach Lee and spent time with him. I've been lucky enough to have numerous coaches in the industry give me support and feedback and I've taken pieces from a lot of different people and found my own form and my own way."
While Gauvin says she still has a lot of preparation to get to where she wants to be for the World Archery Indoor Championships next February, she is looking forward to competing for Team USA with a recurve bow in hand for the first time. "I'm really excited for our team. I think we have a really strong women's team heading in to this event, and it's extra exciting to be competing on home soil. I think we have a great team across the board with strong juniors and many of the divisions will be tough competition, but I'm particularly excited about our women's recurve team."
To those admiring Gauvin's journey, she shared advice: "Archery is a sport where you get out of it what you put into it. If you put in the time and effort, you can get the results. Obviously, it's not a sport limited by age or physical makeup and I love that. And if you really put in the time, not just x number of hours, but working to be smart in your training, to be present in your training, anyone can reach the level of success that I have."
Photo courtesy of Amy Skelton.
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