17-year-old Archery starlet, Elizabeth Taljaard, has called on more women to participate in archery, saying it will go a long way in developing the little-known sport.
With plenty of experience and success under her belt, Taljaard’s only desire is that women’s division would flourish beyond what it has so far.
Taljaard was introduced to the sport by her step-brother, Jan Daniel Maloney, in 2011 when she was 14 and, at that point, Moloney had already been involved in Archery for three years.
In only three years she has become a household name in the sport. Today, she trains five days a week for about 2-3 hours each day, hoping to become the best around.
“I enjoyed it very much when I tried it out. It was like I was bitten by an archery bug,” Taljaard recalled.
“There was an opportunity to go to Italy for youth championships with the Namibian team. That was what really got me interested. However, the chance fell through and Namibia did not go anymore, but at that point I was already in love with the sport,” she said.
A native of Tsumeb, Taljaard took part in 2013 youth championships for Compound Cadet Women in China in which she finished 21 out of 36. Having tasted international competition for the first time, the invaluable experience only spurned her on as she continued to develop through local and regional competitions.
In April last year, Taljaard was part of the Namibian team that partook in the 2014 South African National Championships where she finished first in final seeding after the completion of the 1440 Round (“Full FITA”) for Women’s Compound Cadet.
Taljaard travelled to Egypt with The Archery Association of Namibia (AAN) in October 2014 for the African championships in which she managed to snatch a Bronze medal in the women’s individual and two gold medals as a team. She capped off the year by finishing second at the Namibian nationals. “It was a great experience and I made a lot of friends,” she enthused.
Despite her love for archery, Taljaard believes there is stagnation in opportunities for challenges due to poor funding and small numbers within the women’s division.
“I participate in the women’s Compound Cadet, most females here do, but I want to do Re-Curve. Re-curve is considered more difficult and professional so it is the only one considered for the Olympics, Compound is not,” Taljaard revealed.
In Namibia, only Xander Reddig takes part in Re-curve competitions and partook in the Youth Olympics in China in 2013, becoming the first and only Namibian to have done so.
“I’m hoping to secure sponsorship so I can buy the equipment that I need to go Re-Curve. I need X-10 Protour, those are the shafts needed to compete in the Re-Curve. Hopefully I can secure a sponsorship with an American archery company called Hoyt. I’ve written to them and I’m waiting to hear back,” she said.
Taljaard further encouraged young girls and women to join archery, adding that she has found her academic work to improve significantly since joining the sport.
“Archery requires a lot of mental discipline. You have to be patient and give a lot of focus to what you are doing and this has helped with my studying as well,” she says adding, “Those who are thinking of picking up a bow, or have already started, should just keep practising everyday no matter how hard it seems. Success will show up sooner or later if you work hard.”