Before Rio 2016, Denisse van Lamoen was the only athlete to represent Chile at the Games. Van Lamoen was World Archery Champion in 2011.
In May, at the second stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Medellin, Colombia, a second Chilean Olympic archer was guaranteed when Guillermo Aguilar won an individual men’s spot for the nation. It would mean that the South American nation competed in Rio, and at a second Games in a row.
Though Aguilar won the place, 16-year-old Ricardo Soto won the internal qualification tournament in Chile – and was chosen to compete in Brazil. Something of an incredible start to his short international career, which only began in January 2016.
“I have been shooting since I was 10, but this is the first year I get to represent Chile internationally,” said Ricardo. “I went to the [Hyundai Archery] World Cups in Medellin and Antalya, to the world rankings in Guatemala and the Arizona Cup and to the Pan American Archery Championships in Costa Rica.”
At those Pan Am Championships he competed in the cadet division, winning gold individually and a bronze with Chile’s recurve cadet men’s team, his first two international medals.
Fast forward just a couple of months, and Ricardo has posted the best competition ranking round score of his life – at 675 – to seed 13th at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. A commanding position for a 16-year-old debutant to be in a field of elite archers.
“My first two matches were very entertaining. The first one went to a one-arrow shoot-off that made things more exciting,” Soto said. Two match wins is enough, at the Olympics, to make the last 16.
Soto will walk out onto the field on men’s finals day in Rio, first for a third-round match-up against the Netherland’s Sjef van den Berg, with a chance to contest the Olympic gold.
“I need to be concentrated, focused on the target and shoot the 10 – that yellow ring means everything if you want to win here,” he said.
The Olympic Champion title is just four matches away.
The Rio 2016 Olympic archery competition continues with individual eliminations on 8-10 August.