I was there. For the recurve day. Bit late to tell you, I know. I would loved to have live-blogged and live-tweeted this for you all, or at the least got a report up the same night, but technology let me down, plus I had promised Mademoiselle Infinite Curve a proper weekend in Paris and we had dinner to eat and cobbled lamplit boulevards to walk, and I’ve been snowed under with work since I got back from that lovely, lovely city. Besides, you all watched it on the stream, right? Right? Oh, you didn’t. Well, here’s your chance:
There’s links to the quarters and the compound day off that video. You can get the results here. What can I tell you that a proper fancy camera setup and a bunch of professionals cannot? I’ll give it a try. This is a stitched-photo panorama of our seat, one of 2,500 that were, staggeringly, completely sold out, with hundreds more watching from the gaps in the fences. Paris has turned out for this.
The light was a bit flat – the weather was the only disappointment, overcast all day. I went to Lords last year, which was good but genteel, atmosphere -wise. I never, never thought that I’d see an archery tournament start with Mexican waves rolling round the arena. With call-and-response “lets see how much noise the people dans le rouge block can make!” roars echoing off the still Trocadero fountains. With people with their faces painted with the tricolour cracking beers at 10.30 in the morning. I never thought I’d hear shooters introduced like boxers, and hear an archery crowd drumming their collective feet on the stands in joy. Just amazing. You don’t get that from the stream. I just tried.
I also never thought I’d see archers actually mobbed by fans wanting autographs. Like, rock-star mobbed. I took the below pic of Oh Jin-Hyek as he was basically running away from people demanding he sign this and pose for this. A different world. People were excited to get close.
French recurve archer Gaël Prevost pressing the flesh. (or GAAAAAAAEEEELLL!!!! PREEEEEEVOOOOOSSSTTT!! as the French announcer had it). He was damn good. He was one arrow away from beating Uh-Oh. He’s so tall. All the ladies like him too. There’s a really good YouTube piece about him here.
They wouldn’t let me anywhere near the ‘photo line’ this time (I’m not surprised – there were real photographers there) so I couldn’t get anything like the pics I got in Wroclaw. The longest lens I own got a couple of pics of Alejandra Valencia, who was in imperious, lion-roaring mode. So damn good. She’s our new favourite. Drawing that power from someplace *else*.
The little details were great. Brady thanking God before each round with those fingers to the sky, but punching the air to thank himself and his own talent after winning that bronze. Afterwards, he handed his third place cheque to a tall kid in the crowd. Still trying to find out who.
The parade of failures, equipment and otherwise. Still trying to work out what happened to Deepika Kumari when she failed to shoot that arrow. You can watch it again here.
The ironic cheers, that got bigger and bigger, for Jean-Pierre, the line judge – perhaps because he was the last Frenchman left on the stage. Everyone in on the joke. Singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Khairul Anuar Mohamad – or rather ‘Joyeux Anniversaire’, of course. Enjoying ‘dix!’ more than ‘ten!’ – the harder plosive sound. There was even some better music between sets (which I moaned about previously) – was pleased to hear Yelle’s Je Veux Te Voir at one point. The DJ was kind enough to save ‘Gangnam Style‘ until Oh had won the individual. He was probably eyeing that up on the cue list all day, wondering when he should break it out. Perhaps he was hoping Oh would do the dance on the platform. He was disappointed.
Also, there was the little thing that few people saw, when [a certain well-known archery coach] dropped the medal draped over his shoulder that his charge had just been awarded and it hit a stone statue by the arena exit (I could hear the clang from fifteen feet back) and he turned away from the crowd to try and rub the mark off it…. oh, joy. That was good.
I had a glorious time, and I’m wondering if an atmosphere like that is ever going to be replicated again. I particularly wonder how the World Championship finals next week are gonna compare – no chance, probably. By my calculations, they did at least €100,000 in ticket sales, and the sponsors must have been pleased. There is an audience for big archery events, and it can be found and nurtured into creating an amazing day of sport.
Now where does it go from here?