USA's Casey Kaufhold, the world's No. 1-ranked women's archer, seeks gold in Paris

FFILE - United States' Casey Kaufhold shoots an arrow during the women's team competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

It didn't take long for Brady Ellison to see that Casey Kaufhold was heading toward greatness.

Ellison is a former world No. 1 men’s archer who is heading to his fifth Olympics this year. He said when he first started teaming up with Kaufhold in 2019, the 15-year-old sometimes would beat him when they practiced. They won gold for the United States in the mixed team category at the Pan-American Games that year.

“The beauty of the archery is that you get these talented people, and it doesn’t really matter how old they are, they can hit,” Ellison said. “And I knew that she was good. Like, as soon as she made the World Cup teams and she was (an under-18) shooter that was making our senior teams, she was one of the best in the country. And if she made the team, any team that we were on, we had a chance to win."

The fact that Ellison was a former world No. 1 resonated with Kaufhold, now 20 years old, and drove her to reach that status last year on the women's side. She became the first American woman to reach the top of the Sanlida World Archery rankings since they were established in 2001. She tops the recurve category.

"That was huge for me,” she said. "And I wanted to be that. And so to accomplish that at 19 for the first time, that was like — I always knew I was going to get there, but never in a million years would I have imagined it would have been at 19.”

The rising star from Lancaster, Pennsylvania looks to become the first American to win Olympic gold in archery since 1996. She could become the first American woman to claim an individual medal since 1976, when Luann Ryon won gold in Montreal.

Kaufhold also will participate in the team event with Catalina Gnoriega and Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez.

Kaufhold qualified for the Tokyo Games at age 17 but didn't medal. She considered her performance disappointing and said she learned the cost of not trusting herself.

“Even though it is on the Olympic stage or even though there are however many people watching on TV, like, it doesn’t doesn’t change your shot,” she said. "It doesn’t change that the target is the same distance away as it always is, even though the surroundings might be different, it’s still you, your bow and the target, and you shouldn’t change the way you think or the way you shoot.”

What she considered a slump continued when she finished fourth at the youth world championships after the Olympics.

She bounced back. Perhaps her most important medal was the silver she earned at the world championships later that year.

“That was huge for me,” she said. “That was my first individual international medal. And so that was just a huge confidence booster. And I feel like that experience has carried a lot with me throughout my last few years of my career.”

She has continued to thrive since. Last year, she won the Olympic test event in Paris, which led to her No. 1 ranking. It was among three straight top-four finishes for her in World Cup events.

She won gold in the mixed team and team events and bronze in the individual event at the Pan-Am Games later that year in Santiago, Chile.

This year, she won gold in the individual and team events at the Pan-American Championships in Medellin, Colombia.

Kaufhold said her parents have helped. Rob Kaufhold is the founder and president of Lancaster Archery Supply and Carole Kaufhold is the CEO.

“They have a beautiful facility for me to shoot in, all the equipment that I would ever need," Casey Kaufhold said. “And that’s just like such, such a huge part of archery is just having a facility to shoot, and having access to equipment. And so that’s been super helpful just in my training and being able to try a bunch of different things with my setup and being able to shoot in every day at such a nice facility.”


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