Karen Van Nest – Year in Review
Karen Van Nest attended her third Paralympics in archery this year! As a commemoration of her shooting this year, we’ve decided to do a round-up of her 2021.
Van Nest’s competition season started in Monterrey, Mexico with the Pan American Championships/Continental Qualifier. She was in the Compound Women’s Open category and jumped right to the quarterfinals due to her high qualification score. She beat Mexican archer Paula Silveira and then won the semi-final against Brazilian Anne Pacheco Xavier. Her final match of the event came against Chile’s Mariana Zuñiga, with a score of 144-135. This tournament had tricky winds!
This result did not come without its challenges. Karen was not able to train outside prior to travelling due to weather conditions (she shot in her own yard!) and there were other restrictions because of the pandemic. She had only 3 days of indoor 50 meter training at Peel Archery Club just before her flight, but that clearly didn’t slow her down.
Following Mexico, she travelled to Paris for the third stage of the World Cup. Van Nest was the sole representative in the women’s compound competition, shooting alongside four other Canadian archers, though they were all in the recurve event. She scored a 686 and earned a 26th place finish and unfortunately did not advance in the bracket when she narrowly lost to Iranian archer Seyedeh-Vida Halimianavval by a score of 144-141.
Because the season of such a high-profile athlete never stops, she then moved on to the Czech Republic for the Para-Archery World Ranking Tournament and Final Paralympic Qualification in Nové Mesto nad Metují.
Finally, at the end of July, while her Canadian teammates were competing in Tokyo, it was announced that Karen was going to be the sole Canadian Paralympic archer traveling to Japan later on in the summer. As mentioned earlier, this was her third Paralympic Games competing in archery, but her sixth overall. She attended Sydney, Athens, and Beijing as a shooter, not an archer. Her previous Paralympic archery experience included not one, but two, top-10 finishes in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 [8th in compound team and 9th in individual compound open].
The Paralympics in Tokyo got off to a rough start. Her suit case with her shooting stool didn’t arrive with her bow case – no clothing, no toiletries, and most significantly, no stool. Duncan Crawford, National Paralympic coach, was able to find a highchair bar stool like the one Van Nest worked with. Crawford noted during practice that “Karen is feeling great and performing at near peak levels”, proving that a few obstacles are not going to derail the train.
Van Nest shot a score of 678, which placed her in 11th. It was nothing short of an amazing second half. Her second half score was 346, which was a Paralympic best for her and was third in the field. 678 was also a Paralympic best and 4 points higher than her previous Paralympic record. As she came off of a successful qualification round, she was placed against 22nd Miho Nagano of Japan. She was steady throughout the match, with no arrows under 8 points and had 3 X’s. The final score was 138-130.
After that elimination round, she moved onto the 1/8 matches and had an incredibly close match against Yueshan Lin of China. They were tied for the first two ends, with Lin moving away for the third. Van Nest pulled ahead for the fourth and then Lin won the match by two points, 142-140. Canada was so incredibly proud of her performance!
To round up a great year, Karen was then named to the 2022 Senior National Compound Squad, alongside 4 other women and 6 men. As part of this team, she has qualified to be selected for different World Archery events in the coming 2022 season, which includes the Hyundai Archery World Cup.
Not one day later, it was then announced that she would be joining seven other archers as part of the Master’s Canadian team heading to the 2022 Youth and Masters Pan Am Championships in Halifax next June. She was the highest scoring compound-shooting female archer in contention.
Although she has retired from para archery, Karen is nowhere near done with her archery career, as we can already see with her plans for the 2022 season.