Valrico resident and Tampa Catholic High School rising senior Sydney Sullenberger took home gold at the Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) Nationals and world youth team trials in Decatur, Alabama in July.
The 17-year-old archer finished as the top seed out of 78 girls, winning gold at JOAD Nationals, and later competed against the top eight for the world youth teams trials, in which she also claimed first place. She is one of three girls that will represent the United States while competing in Wroclaw, Poland in early August.
“Ultimately, this is what I have been working towards for the past seven years of my competitive career,” said Sullenberger. “To finally have all the hard work, training and everything pay off, it really meant a lot to be able to accomplish that.”
She will compete as an individual, on the Compound Cadet Female Team (top three qualifiers from world youth team trials) and possibly for the Mixed Team (top boy and top girl qualifiers) in Poland. Sullenberger will also compete in the Buckeye Classic in Columbus, Ohio, which is the final leg of her National United States Archery Team (USAT) season to potentially qualify her for the U.S. National Team as well.
“I’m looking forward to competing on the world stage at such a high level against all these other countries—for me right now, it’s the highest level that I’ll be able to compete at,” said Sullenberger. “It’s just going be a great experience to have under my belt.”
Sullenberger works for Adventures Archery in Tampa, where she originally learned how to shoot. She became interested in archery after some friends introduced her to it. She had her 10th birthday party at Adventures Archery and received her first bow, and shortly after started her competitive career.
The high school junior has faced adversity in her career, having to battle through three knee surgeries. For three straight years from 2017-19, she had to shoot while sitting down in a chair. She didn’t want to stop shooting, so she figured out a way to adapt while she competed. Sullenberger thinks that these challenges have ultimately made her a better shooter overall.
Sullenberger has a GoFundMe page set up to help raise funds for her trip to Poland. If you are interested in contributing, search ‘Sydney Sullenberger Archery’ on Facebook or GoFundMe. She has never been outside of the United States, so she looks forward to traveling to another country.
“I would like to thank my family, friends and my incredible coach, Diane Watson, for all the love and support,” said Sullenberger. “A big thanks also goes out to Adventures Archery for their continued support.”