Ainhoa Santamaria | Goalkeeper
Eleventh in the world in longbow shooting, the woman from Alava has paid for her participation in the Italian championship
Ainhoa Santamaría, from Alava, continues to take giant steps in a sport as complex as it is minority. Archery in its ‘longbow’ mode is for a few. However, her experiences in the 2021 European Championship and in the last World Cup in Italy push her to want more. After proclaiming herself champion of Spain and the Spanish Cup last year, she rubs shoulders with the best. To attend the world event she had to pass a tough qualifying that took her to second place. Expenses had to be borne. Incredible? In many non-professional disciplines, everything is at the mercy of the economic and human effort of the athlete himself. So the merit multiplies.
– What feelings does it give you to be the eleventh best goalkeeper in the world?
– Put like that, it sounds great. I am very satisfied considering that the best were in Terni. What makes me happiest is that I have gained confidence and that has helped me progress and improve my performance.
– It was his first World Cup. Are your goals met?
– The initial idea was to increase my shot by improving technique and working on the psychological aspect that is fundamental in individual sports. You have to go very humble because the best go, with enormous experience. The debutante was me. It’s been a whole week, a long one, and you need to keep your head absolutely focused. Being on a date like this is the best.
– How was the competition week?
– For clarity, the competition is divided into ‘pools’ or groups and the best twenty-two qualify for the final phase. I was the seventeenth, so the first objective of making the cut I fulfilled. Then I had two first matches that I won. In the third I met the ninth, an Austrian who had been world champion and I fell. The level of demand has been the maximum.
– Put me in situation. What must he face?
– To begin with, the maximum difficulty means that you want to reduce the archer as much as possible. Both in minimum conditions of light or visibility and in complexity. In fact, the male longbow competitors already warned us that it was almost extreme. For you to understand, you are in a forest with almost imperceptible figures and vital points. Scoring points has been a tremendous effort. But I also tell you that this has tanned me a lot. Nothing like being with the best and overcoming the greatest difficulties to continue learning. What surprised me the most was the pause with which I was able to compete in the heats.
– After an intense season, is it time to rest?
– Yes and no (laughs). I need a break, it’s true. But in this World Cup we were with two coaches from the Spanish federation and we did technical work. They gave us several guidelines to continue outlining details. I’m going to get to work on it and prepare for the next appointment, which could be the European in Turin or another World Cup because, as there was no event with the pandemic, they want to get it back.
Scholarships and grants
– Looking at the podium was a dream?
– The distances have not been so great. She won the Italian Cecilia Santacroche, who did make a difference because she made four tens in her qualifying rounds, the most. That means she hit vital high score points. The one with the highest value awards eleven points, so you can imagine.
– And your arrows? How did they go in those qualifiers?
– Six animals are thrown into them. That is, an arrow to each target. Of the six, in each of the meetings I had a null. However, the first two I won with one less arrow. I was coming back, which means I was focused.
– Is it science fiction to live 24 hours in a unique and exclusive environment of this sport?
– Absolutely. We were able to do it this week. Imagine going back and facing the reality that is none other than reconciling work, family life, training and competitions. I’m not talking about anything that doesn’t happen to any athlete from minority and non-professional disciplines.
– Participation in the World Cup has come out of his pocket. Is there no way to get help?
– In my case, as I was second in the qualifier, the federation only paid the first all the expenses. Now I am looking at the tables of the Higher Sports Council to be able to enter the range of a high-level athlete. That would open up the option of scholarships, financial aid or technical training.