World #1 Alexis Ruiz leads star-studded USA youth team at championships in Madrid
Two years ago, Alexis Ruiz was a newcomer at the World Archery Youth Championships. She made a brilliant debut and collected three medals – including a valuable individual gold in the compound junior women’s event.
Since that tournament in Rosario, the pace of her career has sped up significantly.
She joined the USA senior team at the start of 2019 and was the only athlete to finish on the podium at all four stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup this season. She’s qualified, too, for the circuit-ending final in Moscow in September.
Preparing to defend her junior world title in Madrid, Alexis is in the spotlight.
“It’s very different. My first world youth champs were my first world tournament. I was just getting experience. And now I have the experience,” she said.
“I’ve got a completely different feeling knowing how many people know me. But at the same time, a lot of these people compete at the senior World Cups with me. So I know I have to shoot my best against them.”
The event in Rosario, two years ago, and this championships in Madrid act as something of career milestones for the 20-year-old.
“I’ve actually noticed a lot of progress. My high score then is like my low score now. I’ve come a long way but it’s all about hard work,” she said. “It’s definitely mental development. I work on my mentality every day. I run the same programme. I do the same thing in my head every single shot and it doesn’t change.”
The reigning champion will turn 21 in 2020. Madrid closes an important chapter of her career.
“This is my last junior tournament so as long as I do my best I will be happy. Of course, it would be great to end my junior time with a gold medal. I already have one but I do plan to add a second one to my collection,” said Ruiz.
As world number one, Alexis is undoubtedly favourite to repeat with the title. But she’s set to face still competition from the likes of Universiade winner Andrea Becerra and the cadet gold medallist from two years ago, Lucy Mason, among others.
“I’m not going to expect that from myself. I know other people think like that but I just want to shoot my best. Anyone else can have a really good day. So I need to do my best and hopefully, I will win,” said Ruiz.
“I feel less pressure. I can set my own goals and I feel happy when I accomplish my own goal.”
Fifteen-year-old Kaufhold is one of the youngest participants in the 2019 World Archery Youth Championships. She’s also fresh off an individual bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Lima and currently leading her national Olympic trials.
Casey came 33rd two years ago in Rosario. She’s been working hard since.
“There are so many things that you can learn from mistakes. Even when you win, you know there are little things that you can make perfect,” she said.
“I’ve been good friends with Alexis for a while. She actually went on my first international trip two years ago in Argentina, it was the same competition. I’ve definitely learnt a lot from her with work ethics. She is very hardworking and a big inspiration.”
Casey, Alexis, Jack and the rest of the star-studded team are equipped to do very well here in Madrid.
“I definitely think that the United States is one of the strongest teams out there with performance, attitude and work ethic,” said Casey. “I think we’re going to do really strong and be a great team.”
The 2019 World Archery Youth Championships takes place on 19-25 August in Madrid, Spain.