(L-R) Gabi Sasai and Brady Ellison pose for a picture at the 2022 Archery World Cup Stage 1 on April 24, 2022 in Antalya, Turkey.
American Gabi Sasai is quickly figuring out the path to becoming one of rising stars in archery. Hard work and practice are givens. The secret sauce to improving is simple: capitalizing on the competition opportunities against the world’s best.
Sasai, a 16-year-old from Seattle, just made a big splash in her first world cup, winning a bronze medal with three-time Olympic medalist Brady Ellison in the team event in Turkey. Sasai was also the top American female finisher in Antalya.
The world cup schedule rolls on for Sasai with an event in Gwangju, South Korea, running May 16-22. She is ranked No. 85 in the world, and knows these events are steppingstones in her young career.
“I go there to soak everything up,” Sasai said. “I’m really excited to go to South Korea, because I’ve never been in continental Asia. So that is super cool. Outside of the archery competition, I can’t wait to see my international friends in the other delegations. It will be fun.”
Sasai’s positive experiences in Turkey may set her up to do well in Gwangju. She admits her first world cup was a lot to take in. Defusing pressure, dealing with top competitors, and paying attention to every detail were all lessons learned in person, with a little mentoring help from Ellison.
“You have no idea what it feels like. There is so much big energy out there that you have to deal with,” she said. “I’m expecting the cramped spaces, and you need to get on that target and go. They’re not polite about squeezing you out on the target. You have to know what you need to do and the conditions. I had to mentally desensitize myself to everything that was happening around me in Turkey. Once I understood that, it got easier. Brady was so chill and funny, so that helped.
“I feel less concerned going to South Korea, there is less unknown now to me. I am just going to the tournament with the expectation of doing my best and shooting well.”
Sasai started archery at 6, thanks to her dad David being a fan of the sport. Her success since then has resulted in a big collection of plaques, medals, and trophies. She stored her awards in a bag, dubbed the “shopping bag of glory”, until it broke. David replaced it with a plastic box (of glory) and the world cup bronze medal sits on the top of the stored stash in her room.