Marlyse Hourtou, from Chad, is one of just a handful of African recurve archers shooting at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships, some of whom have been training as resident athletes at the World Archery Excellence Centre in Lausanne.
Now aged nearly 23, Hourtou has been shooting for 10 years.
“It’s been a long journey. I started very young, but I didn’t have the right equipment or coaching for a long time,” she said. “When I finally did a competition in central Africa, I did well, and ended up with an Olympic scholarship. I found some really good coaches, and here I am.”
After eight months of hard work at the centre, Marlyse made the trip to these world championships. She shot well, too, easily making the top-104 cut after scoring 623 points for qualification and seeding 87th of the 152 recurve women in ’s-Hertogenbosch.
“Did I expect to win? More or less. As long as it is working I don’t expect to win or to lose. It was a great experience for me, anyway,” she said.
Marlyse came up against highly experienced Swedish archer Christine Bjerendal in her first match. She did not make it through, but she took two points in the third set when she shot 27.
And Hourtou was happy with her performance in the Netherlands.
“I like when I’m shooting calm; when I’m not panicking or anything. When I’m strong and calm inside,” she said. “I want to be here to see the Koreans, to know why they shoot so good.”
Between the African Games and the African Archery Championships in 2020, there are eight places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games available for archers from across the continent.
Hourtou has an excellent chance of qualifying at one of these events – especially having shot the highest qualifying score of any African woman at the world championships since its move to 70 metres in 2015.
Chad sent just two athletes to Rio 2016 – both track athletes. If she made it to Tokyo, Marlyse would be the first archer from Chad to compete for her country at the Games.
“There’s a girl from Kenya scoring at the 610-615 level, and one girl from Egypt. But yes, with a positive spirit, I think I can get there. I saw the Olympics on TV, and it made me want to go and do it,” she said.
“I don’t know where archery will take me, but wherever it takes me, I’m ready for it. Of all the people here, I’m the only black African woman. So I’m proud of that. I did a lot to come here. I’m very proud of what I’m doing.”
The 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships take place on 10-16 June in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.