the old and the new

8 October, 2015


#TBT: archery on primetime British TV, as a strong historical VT segment on the re-enactment of the battle of Agincourt in northern France bleeds into a slightly dumbed-down live piece featuring GB internationals Becky Martin (recurve) and Jo Frith (para compound) ‘against’ Nick Frost‘s local darts team. The whole thing overseen, for some reason, by Geena Davis, who has several well-known connections to archery, but wasn’t shooting – she was in town to talk about something else.

The Agincourt piece is pretty strong (NB am going to write an extended piece for publishing on the anniversary on the 25th), but the ‘dartchery’ piece I have problems with.

I’m always a bit torn with TV exposure like this. On the one hand it’s going to expose archery to a lot of people, some of whom might make it part of their lives. On the other, the dumb, jokey format reinforces the popular public opinion that it’s more a frivolous pastime than a serious Olympic sport that can change your life. Like archery is the ‘giant chess set‘ version of darts, played in the pub back garden. In the long run, I think this is detrimental to the sport, because it diminishes popular respect for it.

It should be pointed out that this has nothing to do with Becky or Jo, who did a great job, and everything to do with the lazy TV researchers who decided to go with the first dumb idea in their heads. Enjoy.

UK readers can watch the full episode here for a while. 



A Win & Win Situation

1 October, 2015



So, after a couple of years running this blog / Facebook page / media ’empire’ almost completely solo, I’ve decided, after some thought and some rising costs, to accept some sponsorship.

The Infinite Curve is now proudly powered by WIAWIS and Win & Win Archery. Regular readers will know that I give a lot of attention to Korean international archery and it seemed entirely appropriate that I should be associated with a Korean company, especially one whose products I’ve admired for many years. I’ve been doing a couple of tiny things behind the scenes for them recently, and I will now be flying the WIAWIS logo, associated with the newer nano-carbon risers and limbs and an amazing range of carbon bikes, too. You may have noticed the awesome range of flag risers too, launched today:


There will be some more branding (as soon as my webmaster gets a moment…) and just a little more about products but otherwise, nothing whatsoever will be changing. I will still try and promote the sport and do my best to interest and fascinate you and anyone else who turns up here. It’s still all just about archery. And you. Thanks!  John.

2015 Aquece Rio Olympic Test Event

22 September, 2015


Bernardo Oliveira

So, the archery test event for Rio 2016 happened at the Sambódromo – although they didn’t test the TV cameras and there wasn’t a shred of footage, much to the disappointment of archery fans around the world. It’s notable how much international standards had increased since the last test event in London in 2011. In that qualification round, in the men’s competition if you shot 650 you placed 34th – in Rio, you’d only be 42nd. In the women’s competition: 650 would have got you 2nd place in London – in Rio only 18th. It’s remarkable how many nations have produced elite level archers in just four years.

There was controversy early on with a scorecard incident involving none other than Olympic champion Oh Jin-Hyek, who apparently forgot to total the second half of his qualification scoresheet during the ranking round. Despite an aghast appeal from the Koreans, he was dropped to last place and also took the men’s team – who must have been at least even money to win here – out of the competition. This was just one of several high profile incidents this year involving scorecard mistakes, including a disaster for the USA men’s team in Copenhagen. It’s not ‘fair’, no, but the rules are not a secret – everyone knows them and everyone knows the consequences. It seems unlikely that a movement to change the scorecard-last rule is going to appear anytime soon, at least before completely foolproof universal electronic scoring appears sometime in the distant future.


via @OttonBaquerizo

None of the big Asian archery nations disappointed. The Korean men may have been gone, but the women’s team – despite apparently finding it difficult to get used to the food – scythed through the field and took gold without losing a single set point. In hot conditions, China were almost as dominant on the men’s side, and Chinese Taipei continued their podium-level runs in all competitions. Choi Misun took individual women’s gold, and world champion Kim Woojin took the men’s title, holding off a spectacular silver medal run from Sjef Van Den Berg, capping an extraordinary season for the Dutchman that saw him nearly destroy an entire field at the European Games. The big shoulders of Marcus D’Almeida may need further reinforcing over the next year after he finished a creditable ninth, there was another strong showing from Mackenzie Brown keeping USA hopes up for next year, and the Canadian men surprised.

Most athletes seemed to praise the sea-of-green setup in Rio, although the temperatures seemed to trouble a few. In under a year, the ‘big dance’ beckons.

All scores and results here. Pics here.  Thanks to Chris Wells and Andrea Vasquez for all the reportage. 

take my money already!

21 September, 2015


Deepika Kumari: and on it goes

7 September, 2015


“I am worried over Deepika’s problem. Less than a year is left for the Olympics and Deepika has to come up with her best. Her selection for Rio will hinge a lot on her performance in the coming months,” said Jamshedpur-based Dharmendra Tiwary, who was the Indian team mentor at both Denmark and Poland competitions.

While Deepika, Majhi and Biruily have qualified for next year’s Rio Olympics team event, their participation hinges on Indian selectors’ appraisal of their performance in various tournaments in the lead-up to the world’s biggest sports extravaganza.

“Unlike Champia, who has qualified for Olympics in his individual capacity and will, therefore, compete in Rio, the women will need to maintain their performance in upcoming national and international competitions for getting selected in the Indian squad,” explained V.V.S.N. Rao, former technical director of Tata archery cradle.

“Hence, the upcoming events are very crucial for the women archers,” he said.

Tiwary explained that Deepika was a top-bracket archer who was a seasoned performer with a hunger to do well. “When she was new to archery, Deepika used to shoot well with a free mind. But that is not the situation now. She may be feeling bogged down by the pressure to perform. This happens when one becomes seasoned. Remember, Deepika is in archery for more than a decade now,” he explained.

I’ve written before about the endemic sexism in the Indian media about Deepika Kumari​ and unfortunately, it shows no sign of going away. But when her own coaches help to stick the knife in, it seems particularly awful.

I’m struggling to think of any other country or NGB that would undermine its own elite Olympic athletes by detailing their perceived faults in public, to the press. Unfortunately, it only seems to happen to female athletes, and Kumari in particular, despite her relatively strong season so far and anchoring a team that qualified for Rio.

Even worse is the incorrect assertion that Mangal Singh Champia qualified himself personally for Rio, when he only qualified a individual place for Indian men. I suppose the Indian archery association might have some internal code about what would happen in Copenhagen qualification, but if what he is saying is true, i.e. Champia gained a place that was somehow ‘his’ by right but the women had to earn their places in a 2016 selection shoot (like most  other nations) then surely that would be deeply unethical, not to mention possibly illegal?

Even if he is just wrong, the choice of words is telling. It’s not so surprising in a country recently cited as the worst G20 country in which to be a woman, but a lot of attitudes in the world of Indian sport seem stuck firmly in the nineteenth century – and the country’s media still apparently do nothing to help.