by: Kaylin Fleenor
Elzbieta Tworek is a recurve bow competitor and level 4 archery coach. She was born in Poland and moved to the United States in 1994. She has been doing archery since she was 12 years old, shooting a bow for 45 years, and has been an archery coach for over three decades.
Tworek grew up in a small town in Poland. She started archery at a local archery club after kids from her school were invited for an introductory lesson. Inspired by the colorful targets and recurve bows, she started shooting and successfully competing amongst kids. A year later, she won the Polish Nationals in her hometown in the youngest age group. This happened shortly after the 1972 Olympics in Munich, when Polish archer Irena Szydlowska won a silver medal and became an inspiration for many young archers. Tworek’s club was full of talented boys and girls who were making archery an adventure. Tworek continued archery throughout her college years in Warsaw.
The Polish Olympic Committee and Polish Sport Federation, the governing body for sport in Poland in 80s, considered athletes over age 25 “too old” for sponsoring, no matter their ability. As a result, Tworek retired from the Polish Archery National Team at the age of 25, married, and moved back to her hometown. She continued to pursue her passion and became an archery coach and PE teacher for a high school. Despite her lack of sponsors, she competed for another couple of years to represent her club.
Her husband’s job brought them to the United States. Here, they learned English and adapted to a new culture. She says that she uses archery as a bridge between her old and new world.
Tworek said that she knew from the beginning that she wanted to stay involved in her sport for as long as possible. She is proud of her Polish and American National titles, representing Poland at international competitions, establishing Polish records, qualifying for the Polish Olympic Dream Team in 1980 and 1984, running her hometown club as president, as well as coaching many archers at the national level.
Over the years, she has taught archers in community college, in summer camps, and privately, both to compete and for recreation. As a coach, she is proud of every archer to whom she has taught her passion. She says that her greatest accomplishment is being the pioneer of introducing the sport of archery (Olympic style) to East Tennessee. When she moved to that area, people associated archery with hunting; many of them had never met a target recurve bow shooter or an Olympian. Coach Tworek convinced the state college to have archery classes, and she designed a curriculum, acquired equipment and taught the courses for over a decade. During these years, many youth and adults were exposed to the sport of archery, competed, and brought multiple medals to East Tennessee.
Archery has brought Tworek lots of joy, satisfaction, and the feelings of accomplishment and happiness. Archery always helps her to overcome difficult times like a good, old friend. Coach Tworek’s dream of going to the Olympics is still alive, albeit in a different form: she now wants to go as a coach to one of her students.
Tworek currently owns and operates an archery club named The Olympic Arrow in Knoxville, Tennessee.
You can learn more on Facebook at Olympic Arrow Archery Club or www.theolympicarrow.com.