At the 2000 Olympics held in Sydney, Australia, Vic Wunderle represented the United States, winning an individual silver medal and a team bronze medal in archery. He finished in the top 10 both individually and team in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
“I felt a great honor, privilege, and responsibility representing my community and country in the Olympic Games,” said Wunderle, an Illinois native who is now the head archery coach at Mount Marty University. “Many people added to my journey, making that experience possible with a word of encouragement or something much more. Getting to the Olympics is not something I could have done on my own.”
Lessons he learned from his parents, family, and teachers helped him become successful in archery.
And success will be in the spotlight when Yankton hosts the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships, World Archery Congress and Hyundai World Cup Final Sept. 16-30.
“As a child, I wasn’t much different from many kids who walk into the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center every day. You never know, one of the kids watching the archery finals at Riverside Park Sept. 24-26 might become inspired to go on and become Yankton’s own Olympian someday,” he says.
Recent Olympic medalists from the Summer Games in Tokyo will likely be in Yankton for the World Championships and World Cup next month.
“I previously competed internationally on teams with all of our Tokyo Men’s Olympic team members,” Wunderle said. “I competed with two of them in Yankton at the 2018 Indoor World Championships, and they are returning in September, including No. 1 world-ranked Brady Ellison. Should he or any of our USA team members be lucky enough to win, I, for one, will be standing with my hand over my heart when they play the National Anthem. I’m certain Brady would be doing the same, and I don’t know of one on our team who would do differently. … Our archery team takes a lot of pride and honor in representing you and the great people who built and protected this nation.”
American archers have competed in Yankton many times. Wunderle said they like it here. The world’s largest archery facility is the hidden gem of South Dakota, and they’d like more people to come out and enjoy it.
“This September is our chance to show the world the best the USA has to offer. Let’s show them Yankton, South Dakota,” Wunderle said.
He’s made many great friendships with people around the world through archery.
“I’ve found that even though the world politicians don’t always get along, the athletes typically have mutual respect and often form lasting friendships. People from other countries are much like us, just influenced differently. We’re all a part of mankind,” he said. “The archery community is like a big family. I’m looking forward to my family reunion in Yankton this September. Like many family reunions, we will visit, eat some food and play some games. Our game will be archery in front of a miniature Mount Rushmore at Riverside Park. You are invited.”
Wunderle has competed on the USA team for 25 years. Everywhere he’s traveled, people have opinions about Americans — some love America, some hate America. But most wish they had the opportunities that Americans take for granted.
“We are doing something right that allows us these comforts and opportunities,” Wunderle said. “I think it is time our country remembers how much God has blessed us.”
He tried out for the Tokyo Olympics in 2019 and finished 17th in the round. (They cut to the top 16.) He stopped training after that.
“One day this spring, I read II Kings 13:15. The prophet Elisha told the king, ‘Get your bow and arrows. Get ready to shoot,’” Wunderle said. “As an archer, this struck me and left me pondering. A day or two later, I received a voicemail that someone dropped out of the trials, and I was invited to rejoin. I moved up a few places to 14th in the trials and talked with Michael Plummer, who will now be attending Mount Marty this fall. Michael finished 11th place in Olympic trials and recently edged out an Olympic gold medalist at the Buckeye Classic to secure a major national win on his run towards the 2022 USA team. He will be joining teammate Noah Cagle at Mount Marty.”
The Youth World Championships are being held in August in Poland. Mount Marty archery team member Brady Klassen will be representing Team Canada.
“We are very honored to have him on our team. He is a shining example of the upstanding character and values that Mount Marty and the Yankton community represent,” Wunderle said.
Volunteers are needed. Sign up to help at www.yankton2021.org or come out and watch this free event.