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Teenager Waka Sonoda taking aim at Olympic archery berth

Kyodo

As one of four women hoping to represent Japan at the World Archery Championships, 16-year-old Waka Sonoda is right on target to make her Olympic dreams a reality.

Having started her athletic career by chance after she visited a local archery range with her mother, Sonoda quickly rose to the top of the ranks and was chosen to train in the Japanese Olympic Committee’s national elite academy in her third year of junior high.

“When I hit the 10-ring (bullseye), I feel a sense of accomplishment. It feels good,” she said of her success in the sport that first appeared at the 1900 Olympics in Paris.

Now, after just three years on the range, Sonoda’s primary target is to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Games, and the possibility is becoming more real for a girl who not too long ago was just swimming and baton twirling for fun, with no intention of purusing sports for her career.

The Oita Prefecture native said she will intensify her efforts to make the cut in competitions leading up the Summer Games, regardless of their size.

“I want to be able to put on a good performance at any competition in order to earn an Olympic spot,” Sonoda said.

In late April, she will take part in an Archery World Cup in Colombia, which doubles as the final qualifier for the June 10-16 worlds to be held in the Netherlands. There, three archers per gender can represent each country.

Of the 128 Olympic quota places available for archery — 64 men and 64 women — six are reserved for Japan as host, three per gender, and the National Olympic Committee nominates which athletes will compete.

Archery competitions at the Tokyo Games will begin on July 24 at Dream Island Archery Field in Koto Ward. Archers will compete in men’s and women’s individual and team events.