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Senior Spotlight: Katherine Wu shoots for gold

Photo courtesy Brandon Martin

By Yuki Wang     11/2/22 12:25am

Despite sometimes seeming otherwise, Rice does not have a shortage of good athletes. Take Katherine Wu, an Olympic hopeful in archery and McMurtry College senior.

“For me, it’s all about how I can bring [my identities] to the community,” Wu said. “Not only do I do archery by myself, but I also want to share the knowledge that I have with the rest of [my] community.”

Wu said she began practicing archery when she was 13 years old. She started competing and trying out for tournaments before making the Junior Dream Team, a USA Archery program. More recently, she represented Rice and won first place in the 2022 Vegas Shoot collegiate women category, the largest indoor archery tournament in the world with over 3,000 competitors.

She is now an archer with the USA National Team, attributing her success to a combination of resistance and passion. 

“When I’m shooting archery, it’s very meditative and requires a lot of focus,” Wu said. “But the feeling of a perfect shot is so amazing. It’s just that feeling that you know that it will go into the gold, and then it does.” 

At Rice, Wu said that she has been able to unite experiences as both an archer and a student, ultimately helping her avoid burnout.

“Archery gives me a break from studying, and being a student gives me a break from just doing archery all the time. That’s why I have not been burned out during competitions.” Wu said. 

Wu’s academics are another aspect of her life that she ties archery into. A neuroscience major on the pre-medicine track, Wu said that her love for neuroscience connects the rest of her passions. 

“I think the brain is fascinating. There are so many things that we don’t know about it and so many areas for research,” Wu said. “It ties into a lot of things that I do, like archery. For example, my understanding of the mechanisms of the brain and the awareness levels really helps me with meditation and improving sports psychology. It also ties into music, because the music really heals the brain, the body and the mind.”

After winning Miss Chinatown USA in 2019, a competition that selects ambassadors who represent the Chinese community and promote Chinese traditions, Wu said she has also strived to spread her Chinese culture and heritage to a wide range of people. Her talent in Guzheng, a Chinese instrument, rests at the core of her cultural identity, she said. 

“I [love] sharing the Guzheng with the community because there are so many people who have never heard of this instrument,” Wu said. “Guzheng was my talent for the Miss Chinatown USA Competition. I played Guzheng for some of the patients in Houston Hospice. I even played in the McMurtry Talent Show when I was a freshman.”

Reflecting on her experience at Rice, Wu said that she can’t imagine attending any other school.

“When you see the list of stuff that I’ve done, it’s not because of me by myself. It’s because of everyone else who has helped me along the way,” Wu said. “The professors who taught me, the administrative staff who helped me to find the field at Rice to continue training and the friends who helped me … It’s through other people that I’ve been able to get to where I am today. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

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