By Perry Smith
Wroclaw, Poland. Copenhagen, Denmark. Medellin, Colombia. The Yucatan Peninsula, and even Australia. Collin Klimitchek said archery has taken the teenager all over the globe for tournament competition, but there’s still one more place he’s looking to compete in — at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
With his four-year-long Olympic goals now less than eight months away, Collin said he’s currently refocused himself in an attempt to make one last run at one of the few coveted spots on the U.S. National Team. “Right now, my goal is to make the Olympic team,” Collin said, noting in early January that he “has a long way to catch up.” After recovering from a lower back injury, Collin said he “got into his own head” in competition in parts of last year, and this year, he’s “redoubling his efforts.” Its working so far, with Collin ranked No. 3 for the Men’s Recurve Bow nationally, according to the U.S. National Team website.
A natural outdoorsman in his hometown of Mission Valley, Texas, the 19-year-old Klimitchek took to archery at a young age, following his dad’s footsteps. “When I turned 5, he popped the idea into my head,” Collin said of his dad’s influence. “It was a lot of fun, and I just kind of stuck with it.” Starting with archery in the local 4-H club, he steadily practiced and improved, winning local tournaments in his native Victoria County in South Texas. By the time he was a teenager, 14-year-old Klimitchek had earned a tryout and a spot on an elite squad known as the Junior Dream Team for archers, a program run by U.S. National Team Archery Head Coach Kisik Lee. Two years later, Collin was given another opportunity to train under Lee, as a Resident Athlete in Chula Vista for the Team USA archery training program.
Described as quiet in interviews — and the up-and-coming archer has already garnered attention from numerous outlets, featured in stories such as “10 Things Every Archer Should Know” — the determined competitor saw the opportunity to train with the best in the country as a turning point in his young career.
Despite his love of archery, Klimitchek, who also enjoys baseball and basketball in addition to a slew of other outdoor activities, said he questioned whether he was making the right choice with the sacrifices involved in dedicating himself to becoming one of the nation’s best archers: the training regimen and tournament schedule he enjoyed somewhat limited his ability to take part in normal 16-year-old activities. While he missed out the occasional ATV trip on 4-wheelers in the country surrounding his hometown, the chance to compete around the world and represent his country was a tremendous honor for Collin, and an opportunity he knew he couldn’t refuse.
“When I got that opportunity, I knew I had to try (to make the National Team),” Collin said. “That was a turning point. It started as, ‘This is just kind of my last chance.’”
Collin is working to make the most of the chance, while globetrotting for tournaments and gaining a multicultural education from his travels that’s probably unrivaled by any world-studies lesson plan. “(In 2015) alone, I’ve probably spent close to 100 days out of the country,” Collin said. He also noted that the travel has its ups and downs because, at 6-feet, 2-inches tall, he’s not a big fan of the space confines in plane travel on international flights. But he doesn’t seem to carry any regrets about his decision. “It’s something I never had the opportunity to do before, and it’s given me a new appreciation,” he said, of other visiting other countries, and even more so, his own, he added. “Because I haven’t seen any country better than America,” he said.
Klimitchek said regardless of whether he reaches his dreams of the Olympic podium, he’d still pursue an opportunity to compete in the next World Championships, but after that, he’s ready for his next adventure. An avid hunter who also likes to spearfish and shoot, Klimitchek said he’d like to join one of the armed services after he hangs up his bow and arrow, with his goal making another elite team — the special forces…