Let’s just own it: we think Khatuna Lorig is awesome. And it’s not “just” the individual gold medal she won today at the Pan American Games. It’s about her passion for archery, and the confidence she models for women and girls everywhere.
She first stole our hearts in 2008 when she carried the American flag in the Closing Ceremony for the Olympic Games in Beijing, and then again in 2011, when we found out she’d been quietly coaching Jennifer Lawrence for her role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. As if four Olympic Games wasn’t enough, she added a fifth to her resume at London 2012, and THEN became the United States’ top individual finisher in archery after a very close bronze medal match with Mexico’s Mariana Avitia.
Part of what makes Olympic medalists so competitive is that they’re never quite satisfied with “good enough.” So in the past two years, we’ve seen Khatuna begin doing coaching clinics around the country, and clinch four international medals in 2014. This year, she started out on fire with a gold medal win at the AAE Arizona Cup, and then went on to win team bronze along with Ariel Gibilaro and LaNola Pritchard at the Archery World Cup in Shanghai.
And this week, that same team won a hard-fought bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto. We think Khatuna – along with her teammates! – is an athlete to watch at the upcoming World Archery Championships and Olympic Games qualifier in Copenhagen.
Khatuna’s had no small amount of attention recently. This month, she appeared in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, in a photo layout that focused on the strength of the core muscles she relies on so heavily in archery. “Khatuna Lorig embodies the athleticism archery demands” proclaims the headline on ESPN’s website, and we agree. The interview sheds new light on this archery superstar, including the fact that she received electroshock training while living in the former Soviet Union.
Today, Khatuna believes she shoots the heaviest bow on the competition field, at 51 pounds. She might be right – and then again, the example of strength she sets may give rise to a new generation of ultra-strong young female athletes. But at 41, Lorig is leading the American field decisively, and in the Body Issue, she shows us that her confidence comes from knowing her strength and feeling comfortable in her own skin.