Pan Am Games bronze medalist Vic Wunderle traces his roots

Wunderle file

 Pan American Games (July 24-28, 2007)

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

- Individual bronze medal

- Team gold medal

 

World Ranking Event (June 6-10)

Location: Puerto Rico

- Individual gold medal

- Team gold medal

 

2nd European Grand Prix/World Cup 3rd Series (May 29-June 2)

Location: Antalya, Turkey

- 13th place individual

- 9th place team

 

Gold Cup (May 25-27)

Location: Bloomfield, N.J.

 - 3rd place

 

Texas Shootout (April 28-29)

Location: College Station, Texas

- 1st place

 

World Target/Pan Am Team Trials (April 19-22)

Location: Chula Vista, Calif.

- 1st place

 

On the Web: To check out more about Vic Wunderle, go to vicwunderle.com

 

 

 

 

By MATT DANIELS

GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE

 

Just last week, he was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

Earlier this week, he was making appearances in New York City.

 

Then, later this week it's down to Jacksonville, Fla., for a few days of archery training for Vic Wunderle.

 

But he won't stay long.

 

 Monday, he'll be competing in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the United States National Target Championships.

 

Thus, the life of a world champion archer.

 

But once deer season starts for hunters in central Illinois, there's only one place you'll find Wunderle, a two-time Olympian and one of the best archers in the world - back home in Mason City.

 

"Last year, I think there was one three- or four-month period there that he averaged seven days a month home," said Terry Wunderle, Vic's father and a well-renowned archery coach. "He spends a lot of time in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., because the weather's more conducive to practice. As soon as hunting season's over, he'll head down there. But when deer season comes in, I know he'll be here (in Mason City)."

 

But for Vic Wunderle, all the travel and stays in different hotels and airports around the world are well worth it.

 

The 31-year-old and 1994 graduate of Illini Central High School is fresh off a stellar performance at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro last week. Wunderle captured an individual bronze medal while the United States men's team captured team gold. Wunderle knocked off fellow American and four-time Olympian Butch Johnson in the quarterfinals by scoring 115 points (out of a possible 120) to Johnson's 108. Wunderle lost his semifinal match to eventual gold medalist Adrian Puentes of Cuba but bounced back for a solid showing in the bronze medal match.

 

Wunderle beat Canada's Jason Lyons 114-109 for the bronze.

 

"I was shooting very well for most of the competition," Wunderle said. "The team round definitely showed when we ended up with the gold medal. With the nature of the competition and how easy it is to get knocked out, I feel very happy and fortunate to have the success I did."

 

This was Wunderle's fourth Pan Am Games appearance. At the four Pan Am Games - contested every four years - in which he's competed, Wunderle has captured an individual medal at each.

 

Now Wunderle is set on preparing for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, which begin Aug. 8 of next year. But it's not a given Wunderle will make his third straight Olympic appearance after earning an individual silver medal and a team bronze medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia. He also competed in the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece, reaching the quarterfinals in the individual event while the U.S. team finished fourth.

 

"The first cut in the Olympic Trials is at the end of September," Wunderle said. "Then the final two stages will be held next April and May. Despite my past performance and success, I still have to try out and make the team like everybody else."

 

After he competes in the U.S. National Championship in Colorado Springs, it's off to Beijing to compete in a test event for the 2008 Games.  A test event is held a year before the Games to work out any problems with the event, Vic's father said.

 

Vic will leave for Beijing on Aug. 17 and return to the U.S. on Aug. 27.

 

All of the constant travel he has done recently came about after Vic watched his father shoot a bow and arrow at an early age. Vic started competing in archery events at the age of 5. His father made him a personal bow and arrow, wrapping the end of the arrow with cloth.

 

"I put cloth around it and taped it on there in case he shot something he wasn't supposed to, like his sister or his cat," Terry Wunderle said. "It was made off a limb from of our tree. He just fell in love with it."

 

Shortly after his father made Vic's first bow and arrow, Vic competed in his first tournament in Petersburg. The 5-year-old competed in the 12-and-under age division, and after the competition ended, was pretty disappointed.

 

"At the end, they gave out participation medals, but I didn't get one," Vic says. "Then they gave out the awards. They gave out third place to an older kid. They gave out second place. Another older kid went out and got it."

 

Then, when the winner was announced, it wasn't another kid older than Vic. It was Vic, but he didn't know he had won because he was too short to see the scoreboard.

 

"We didn't tell him he was first on the scoreboard," his father said. "Then when they awarded the prize, he got a trophy almost as big as him."

 

Wunderle kept competing after that event in Petersburg, and at the age of 15, realized he had what it takes to compete at the Olympic level.

 

"In 1991, I made my first international team," Vic said. "I went to Norway to represent the U.S. I finished in first place.

 

"Later that year, I shot some world-class scores in some regional competitions. It was at that point that I realized I had potential to some day go to the Olympics if everything went my way."

 

Wunderle said he has no intentions of stopping as an archer anytime soon. Right now, he's hoping for Chicago, the U.S. candidate city to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, to be awarded  the bid to host the Games.

 

"I'm still young enough that if everything goes OK, I can have many successful years ahead of me," he said. "My dream would be able to win a medal in the Chicago Olympics."

 

If that does happen, it would be just another stop on an already world-class career for Wunderle.

 

 

Matt Daniels can be reached at 788-1545 or matt.daniels@sj-r.com