World Champion junior archer
Kendal Nicely, 21, of Gorham remembers the bleachers full of people yelling “USA, USA,” and the video cameras rolling before she stepped up for her final shots at the 2011 World Archery Youth Championships in Legnica, Poland, last August. But, she says, she “honestly” doesn’t remember shooting the final arrow that gave her three consecutive bulls-eyes, earned her the world record for her age group and won her a gold medal.
“It’s almost like a blank mind,” she says, describing herself in competition. “I say ‘relax’ over and over again. It seems to work.”
Nicely has competed in 11 world tournaments as a junior, circling the globe to compete. She has made every U.S. international archery team she’s tried out for (the top three archers make the team). In July, she was part of the U.S. team that won gold at the World University Games in Cordoba, Spain. She qualified for the team in May, despite a rotator cuff injury that plagued her all spring.
“She battled as she usually does and did the job,” said her father, Matt Nicely, who runs a junior Olympic archery development training program in Gorham, where Kendal trains.
Nicely, whose vanity plate reads “Bulz-I,” graduated from the University of New England in May with an associate degree in nursing. She is employed as a nurse at New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland.
Now that she’s 21, she has her sights set on making the U.S. senior division international team. She had to cut back on her training regimen this spring because of the rotator cuff injury. She is still in physical therapy to strengthen her shoulder and is hoping to be at full strength for a tournament in California in late August.
Nicely competes with a compound bow, as opposed to the more traditional recurve bow. A compound bow looks like it has more than one string because it utilizes a pulley system. It is a little easier on the shoulder than a recurve bow, which she used between the ages of 9 and 13. Nicely finds she is more accurate with the compound bow.
“I realized I could be really good with it,” she says.
There is a drawback to this choice, though. Recurve archery is an Olympic sport, but compound archery is not. Nicely watched the TV coverage of the Olympic archery team in London in July, cheering on the U.S. participants, most of whom she knows as former junior teammates. The powers that be in archery are lobbying for the inclusion of compound archery.
“That’s why I say I want to compete in the Olympics someday,” she says.