a tale from Salt Lake

25 June, 2018

pic via https://www.instagram.com/sarahholstsonnichsen/

It was a little difficult to engage fully with the Salt Lake stage of the World Cup this year, living in Europe, as due to someone’s frankly ropey idea of scheduling, the individual matches started past midnight. As a stage, it doesn’t seem to have taken off quite as everyone was hoping; apart from the coverage and the sparse audience, an increasing number of teams skipped it this year and the winds seemed even more capricious than the 2017 outing. No one wants to watch a lottery; although it was noticeable how the very, very best always have less trouble with the wind than others.

But this caught my eye when I was looking through the qualification results. Sarah Sonnichsen, who became the world number one compound archer last year, shot just two arrows out in the desert, then packed up her bow.

Anyone who has been following either of her Instagram feeds this year could not have failed to notice something wrong. She finally put a post up yesterday morning, which I’m going to quote in full:

“This is going to be a very long and honest post. As a lot of people have noticed my score from Salt Lake City is not there and there’s a reason why you can’t see it. As many people also know I’ve really been struggling the past half year or so. I wasn’t feeling good in China, I quit Redding, Turkey was a fight for me and Salt Lake was just too much. 😕 After Turkey I actually took two weeks off from shooting to get some help and I thought I was ready for Salt Lake so that’s why I went here thinking I could handle it but when we had to shoot qualification, the wind was just insane and feeling this way plus the wind and on top of that having a really bad flu was just way too much for me to handle and I completely broke down. No one and I really mean no one should feel the way I felt standing on the shooting line having a complete panic attack.☝🏼 So no I didn’t shoot Salt Lake.
And because of everything there’s going on with me right now I will also be taking a break when I get home. Not from shooting because I still enjoy shooting; I still want to shoot, but I will be taking a break off from shooting competitions for a while until I get my head back to where it’s supposed to be and until I feel completely ready and I get this under control again. I can’t say for how long but I know this is something I have to do for myself. I know I can shoot. I know I’m a good archer. Right now my head is just not in a place where I can shoot what I’m capable of which has shown on most of my results the past 1/2 year. And yes it sucks and I should probably have done this before. But now I’m doing what I need to do to feel better. And hopefully I’ll come out even stronger in the end and I’ll be back to shooting what I’m capable of!😆
People who know me knows this is a really tough decision for me. I’m not good at feeling ‘weak’ and taking a break from archery is not something I’ve ever done before. I usually just push through it. But this time I’ve realized I can’t just push through it. My mind and body is just saying no. I need to take care of myself right now but don’t worry! You guys aren’t gettin rid of me so easy. I will be back!🤣”

It’s a salient reminder that archery as a sport doesn’t exist in a bubble, and depression and mental illness can strike anyone, anywhere, no matter how effective or successful or professional. People are archers, but they are also human; and they have plenty more to deal with as well as competition. Given it is a sport which relies on a iron-cast mental game, raised at will to compete at the highest level, it makes me wonder just how many other archers are suffering (I know of at least two others dealing with similar issues in one way or another).

I hope its needless to say, but everyone is looking forward to seeing Sarah back in competition as soon as she’s well enough to  compete.

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