Sara Lopez’ archery resume has it all. World records? She has them. Championships? Lopez has enough gold medals to sink a small boat.
In just five years, this 22-year-old Columbian archer won 36 World Cup and World Championship medals. She’s maintained a number one world ranking longer than any athlete in World Cup history (1,033 days).
Lopez wasn’t always an archer. As a teenager, she played volleyball and was introduced to archery when her brother started shooting. It was love at first sight.
“I instantly fell in love with the bow, and I decided to leave the volleyball team to start shooting,” Lopez said.
She was a natural at her new sport. Her first tournament was a national competition where she finished second in the junior category. Then she made her international debut at the 2013 Antalya World Cup.
“I was so nervous and excited to meet all my archery heroes. I met Albina Loginova and Reo Wilde, and I swear that was the best day of my life,” Lopez said. “I was so focused on my scores that I never realized I was in the quarterfinals shooting against Kristina Heigenhauser. And then I won the gold medal individually and in teams.” Those two World Cup gold medals were the first in Columbia’s history and launched Lopez’ career.
Lopez doesn’t just focus on winning gold medals; she wants to put her steady hand to use as a pediatric surgeon. “I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I can remember. All my life I have dreamed of being a pediatric surgeon and be the best surgeon I can possibly be,” she said. “I also wanted to be the best archer in the world, but I never thought I would reach both goals at the same time.”
She plans on finishing medical school and competing, which forces her to prioritize her time.
“Right now, I decided to give more time to school, so I have to go to classes, take turns at the hospital in the afternoon, and when I have time, I shoot in my backyard,” Lopez said.
Her struggle to find time to practice and compete is relatable to many archers. “The advice I give to everyone is to keep studying and keep shooting,” Lopez said. “Sometimes it’s difficult. Sometimes you have to make decisions, but archery without school is not a plan for me.”
According to Lopez, she plans on shooting for as long as possible. She also plans to continue her education in the United States before moving back to Columbia to focus on helping children.
As an aspiring children’s surgeon and a world-class archer, Lopez is a real-life superhero. Although she has a hero-like resume, Lopez is not immune to the pressure of being the best. What makes her unique is the ability to shine under duress.
“I have to say the 2017 World Cup Final in Rome was my favorite memory,” Lopez said. “A lot of people were speculating about how long I was going to stay as number one in the world, and obviously the pressure of a bad season was on my shoulders. But I kept a smile from beginning to end and managed to win my third World Cup Final.”
Lopez can smile through her challenges because she loves the sport and enjoys shooting. She suggests all archers find the joy in competition. “Just enjoy it,” she said. “This sport is about having fun and loving what you do, no matter what. Keep shooting with a smile on your face, and I’m sure you will increase your scores.”
Whether she’s saving lives in the operating room or winning world championships, Sara Lopez is a shining example of excellence. With the right attitude and hard work, you can shoot like Lopez. Get started by visiting an archery retailer near you.