Category Archives: target

A storm from the East: Antalya World Cup 2014

20 June, 2014


So I took up an offer from World Archery to come and work on their communications team for the Antalya leg of the World Cup circuit. I wrote up stories: writing, helping to write, assisting or otherwise having a hand in most of the news stories you can see on the front page of during the events. I grabbed quotes, facts, and the odd picture. I wrote some of the features and previews. I got to work with an amazing and amazingly professional team – Chris Wells, head of communications; Didier Mieville, head of marketing; Matteo Pisani, head of making everything actually work, and Dean Alberga, capo di tutti capi of archery photography, amongst many others. I had a incredible time, although it was pretty full-on. Immersive archery media.

It’s not my first World Cup – I went to Wroclaw last year for a couple of days, which you can read about here and here – but it was my first trip on the inside. This isn’t going to be a full narrative account, and I can’t spill all the beans. This will be more like a handful of memories. (There are plenty more of Dean’s spectacular pics on the smugmug page, too)


Choi BominChoi Bomin during official practice. 

In 1990, after losing a penalty shootout at the (football) World Cup, Gary Lineker said “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”  In international archery events, it sometimes seems like you need a similar quote: “500 people fling arrows at targets for five days, and at the end, the Koreans always win.” Except they didn’t. But things changed.

Antalya nestles snugly at one end of the Turkish Riviera on the Mediterranean, protected by the Toros mountains. A port town for over 2000 years, it has expanded wildly since the 1970s to be one of the largest tourist destinations in Europe. Three hundred sunny days a year, apparently, and we are going to get five of them. After an amazing preamble trip to Istanbul with Ms. Infinite Curve, I am treated not just a sea view, but a mountain view too at the smart Rixos Downtown, sat midway between the qualifications field and the beach where the finals are held. Things are looking good. I have a uniform to wear and have been provided with a variety of World Archery blue shirts, khaki shorts and trainers, courtesy of Fila, one of the main sponsors.


Reo Wilde: officially inspected. 

By the time I get over to the practice session, the sun is starting to drop. On the qualifications field, we have an air-conditioned Portakabin where we can generate data, stories and dreams and distribute them to the outside world, via a satellite internet connection and wi-fi that will end up creaking under the strain of hundreds of tablets and phones all over the field hitting refresh twenty times a minute. Matteo and others have developed an incredible system for generating real-time data for archery tournaments, and the demand for it is insatiable. Data, scores, news and pictures. We must provide.



When Korea warm-up, so do their coaches.

The main archery field, owned and managed by the Turkish Archery Federation, is squashed between two giant building sites and a housing estate on prime land near the beach – I get the feeling it won’t be around in a few years, in a city that is seeing rapacious development. Today is qualification day, also known as the ranking round. We are on the field early, and get to watch the recurve teams warm up. Running on the spot, flailing arms, you name it. Although everyone is watching Korea, anyway.

Everyone is always watching Korea. When the KAA decide not to send a recurve team to a World Cup event, the competition feels incomplete. The biomechanical approach to recurve shooting has long been exported along with dozens of elite coaches to all parts of the globe – but now the cultural and style elements, like the distinctive sunhats and the team warm ups, are starting to spread up and down the line, too. Everybody wants to grab a little piece of the magic. The Danish ladies team, with current Korean resident Maja Jager, have developed their own warm-up – a touchier, feelier version of the Korean routine:


At the end of the recurve session, I get quotes from man-of-the-moment Florian Kahllund, the young German archer, and for the first time encounter the perennial problem of sports interviewers: trying to eke something interesting out of someone who isn’t keen on saying very much. He has indeed said everything that needs to be said on qualification day by placing fifth out of 127 men, ahead of the reigning Olympic gold medallist and the reigning world champion. “I know I can shoot these scores in practice, but I’ve become stronger mentally over the past few months.” Can you tell us how, Florian? “Not really.” OK.

I speak to Dasomi Jung of Korea. Of the four women in their recurve squad, she has finished seventh, with her teammates taking places one, two and three. The Korean translator, the immensely helpful Mr. Choi, calls her over, and she gives me an unmistakeable oh-alright-for-fuck’s-sake look as she answers my questions with a bored tone – but she does gives some interesting information about why the Koreans went to Medellin, and why they went there a week early:

“It was the first time we had competed in South America. There is a huge time difference between Medellin and Korea and we needed some days to adjust to the jet lag. Since the Olympics will be held in South America in 2016 it was a good opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the environment. We’ve competed many, many times in Antalya already – so we don’t worry too much about (getting here early for) the competition here.”  Familiarising yourselves for the Olympics two years early? Really?  “Yes.”

The mixed team eliminations follow. I grab quotes from Peter Elzinga and Erika Jones, both of whom are well-familiar with the media, and the awesomely cocksure Jayanta Talukdar who has clipped the Korean pair to make the gold medal match. I’m starting to notice who would be a good interviewee and who wouldn’t. It’s going to make life a lot easier.




Lee Seungyun.

Individual eliminations day. The archers are ferried from the hotels to the field in a fleet of coaches and minibuses. It’s actually only a couple of hundred yards from the hotel, but getting there on foot requires crossing Antalya’s main motorway with eight lanes of screaming traffic. I try this once, a terrifying real-life game of Frogger, and swear never again. The bus schedule is rather elastic and the Korean team have hired their own minibus for the week. This morning me and Chris manage to get a lift in it as it is ferrying Lee Seungyun, the 19 year old world champion. Yeaaaah, we special now. The badges on his chestguard apparently say ‘Lee Seungyun’, ‘No matter what’ and ‘Win it’. (thank you Vanessa Lee).


Yasemin Ecem Anagoz, in her quarter-final match. 

The individual eliminations, as archers go head to head according to their seeding in the ranking round, are brutal. You can smell the fear. The wind has picked up and the djinns are blowing around, ready to destroy months and lifetimes of work.  Everyone ducks deep inside themselves, trying to banish the lurking doubts and allow their unconscious to do the work. Everyone here has done what needs to be done – put arrows into the ten ring at 70 or 50 metres – thousands of times, sometimes hundreds of thousands of times. But can they do it on cue, in competition, with the capricious Mediterranean winds and the fears gurgling in the stomach? Can you do it now? Right now? Many big names take early baths, and I have to tread delicately amongst the stars.

“It was the wind.” I hear this a dozen times today, as I gently try to interview the fallen. Unlike most other precision sports, outdoor archery has a random variable, a roll of the dice. The wind is both a meddling god and a useful boogyman. Today, I actually believe everyone who says “it was the wind”, but later I wonder how many matches were really lost in the lift, in a hotel room, in baggage claim, in the moments of doubt that can strike anywhere.


Aida Roman is knocked out by Tatiana Segina in a shoot-off, where she held and held and held in a manner reminiscent of *that* shoot-off in London.  Can I ask you a couple of questions, Aida?  She barely whispers: “Yes.” The steel confidence displayed indoors at Telford and Nimes earlier this year was a million miles away. She is polite enough to give me “sometimes you win, sometimes you lose” platitudes, looking like a ghost. I feel awful.  Much was expected of the Mexican ladies’ team outdoors this year, but so far they haven’t shone as brightly as expected. It’s the gulf between expectation and reality that really stings.


Best interview of the day went to Oh Jin-Hyek. I’m excited. The Olympic champion. The World Cup Final champion. The ‘Soft Drink Pig‘. The unconventional shooting genius has had a bad day at the office, beaten by Takaharu Furukawa in a rematch of the men’s individual final from London 2012. He stalks off the line, rattled, barking at somebody. A short while later I find Mr. Choi, and ask to speak to ‘Mr. Oh’. He looks at me slightly alarmed and says: “Are you sure?” Excellent. This is going to be a doozy.

We head for the Korean camp: as the sun is setting, he lumbers over looking like he wants to do pretty much anything else than answer my questions. I open with a fairly standard: Can you tell me how the last match went?  Mr. Choi translates. And Oh starts talking… and talking… and talking, avoiding my eyes. Mr Choi keeps trying to stop him, but on and on he goes, and I suddenly realise he is really talking to Mr. Choi. He is justifying things to him, not me. He rattles on for at least ninety seconds, and finally stares off into the distance, grumpy.

Mr. Choi pauses briefly, and says. “He was mostly happy.”

I try not to crease up laughing, and eventually manage to tease something out about rather un-Korean ‘equipment problems’ (to cut a long subsequent story short, he was unhappy with his arrows). How are you going to clear your mind for the team eliminations tomorrow?  He finally looks at me, and I see a flash of the pugnacious ego inside. “It will not be a problem. It was just the equipment.”  I can deliver the goods anytime, sunshine. You can read what we wrote about it here.


In the compound eliminations, Choi Yong Hee of Korea makes it to the gold medal match – a first for the country, and a warning shot across the bows. In Dean’s picture (above), he lifts his bow to the setting sun like some kind of bizarre, Wicker Man-type ritual is about to happen. The destroyer.


Team eliminations day. Compounds and recurves on the same field at the same time. Previously the field was separated by bowtype, now they are separated by sex. The men go first, and I flip between watching the two USA teams.


The recurves didn’t have a great ranking round, and their seeding meant they faced the tough Dutch squad in the first round. They lose 6-0, with Brady Ellison slamming his bow down at one point in frustration. Both USA compound teams, by contrast, breeze through the brackets into the gold medal matches. For most archers, the team eliminations is their last throw of the dice – after this, there is nothing to do for three days until the flight home but sunbathe and reflect on what might have been. There’s a kind of poignancy as people pack up their bows. A lot of wistful stares.


A word about coaches. They come in all shapes and sizes, all manners, all styles – the generals in the field, the technical managers, the in loco parentis. But in competitions like this there’s always a strange point where they are left behind, when the horn sounds and all the archers walk off to collect their arrows and score, and the coaches are left standing around an empty half of the field. The powerful suddenly become powerless, neutered, functionless. A bit lonely. Until the athletes come back and they suddenly spring to life. The eternal cycle.

(Except the Korean coaches. They sit down and get back up again).



It’s noticeable how many of the coaches in the top teams are deeply protective of their charges, and how hands-on many of them are. I suspect ‘hands-on’ is exactly what is required, thousands of miles from home and loved ones.



Today I got to meet the Japanese recurve team, who have managed to make four medal matches, and are the most successful recurve nation behind Korea. They are friendly and helpful, and I type up a feature piece about them as the field empties (there is another piece on the Easton website). In Japan there is a high school archery program, separate from the elite level coaching, which funnels talent into the system. Some high schools are publicly known for the quality of their archery coaching, and Hiroshi Yamamoto, an Olympic medallist in 1984, remains a household name, which has helped keep Olympic archery higher in the public consciousness than in other countries.

After the close of play here, the focus moves to the finals arena on Antalya beach. We all troop down to help set up and set the stage for tomorrow. I go to bed at 10pm completely shattered. We are all putting in 12 hour days or more, although it never really stops. You are constantly in the bubble. You are along for the ride.





Compound finals day. The individuals preview piece is here, and the results pieces are here, here, here and here. The World Archery team suddenly doubles in size with TV crews, commentators, technicians and athlete herders along with everyone else. The finals are on a tight clock, two sessions a day. Me and Chris are doing the same things, only faster. I am the new guy, everyone else has been here before. There is a deep sense of professionalism.

The women’s compound final features some unfamiliar names. The Russian Natalia Avdeeda has been on the women’s circuit since 2009. She was up against a sixteen year-old girl from Iraq called Fatimah Almashhadani. That’s her in the above picture with the head of the Iraqi Archery Federation – who also happens to be her father.

Fatimah has been shooting compound for barely two years, but she left a trail of devastation on the Friday as she dispatched multiple World Cup champion Jamie Van Natta, 15-arrow world record holder Sara Lopez and reigning World Cup Final champion Alejandra Usquiano in individual qualification. It’s a bit like the trail Boris Becker blazed through Wimbledon in 1985, except it wasn’t a wunderkind prodigy from a rich nation with a strong sporting history, it was a shy girl in a headscarf from a country presently tearing itself apart.



Her shooting is a joy to watch, incredibly relaxed. Unlike a lot of grizzled pros, you can tell just how much she still really, really enjoys the physical act of shooting an arrow. With strong support from the local Turks in the audience and a vocal home contingent, Fatimah leads the match up until the very last end when the scores were tied, but unfortunately she sent down an eight and two nines, and the experienced Avdeeva took the match. (You can watch it here.) She looks horribly downcast at the loss, but from the reaction of the Iraq team, you would imagine she had won the gold. As for me, I find myself willing her to win for the whole match, because that would make a better story. Four days of this and I seem to have crossed some sort of journalistic threshold.

She speaks some English, and her father translates the rest: “I wasn’t nervous at all last night, but when I got to the final competition my heart started going faster. It was difficult to control my body. I was having to aim off and I found it hard. I was shooting fast, but I like shooting fast, because I am more focused. I had a dream last night, I got to the competition and we were shooting with the USA.”

Her sister Rand is in the national recurve team, and got a wildcard to London 2012 where she shot against Ki Bo Bae. “I was in the Iraqi recurve team, but decided to take up compound as a new challenge. I love shooting compound. My first coach was my mother. She taught me recurve. My current coach is Majid Ahmadi who was on the Iranian national team.” Mr. Ahmadi, a former World Cup gold medallist, shakes my hand about fifteen times today. He’s great.

“I have to thank coach Ahmadi for everything, really. He has been selfless for me and the national team. Iraq is a dangerous country, and he has fought for Iraqi archery like a citizen.”

I look down at her arrows. Two of them in the quiver have the nocks broken off… just like mine.  It turns out that most Olympic sports programmes in Iraq are still in disarray – or worse. Her father says: “(In 2006) the president of the Iraqi Olympic Association, the secretary general, president of the handball association, volleyball federation and many members of the IOA, were herded and gunned down together.”  The training conditions are challenging, too:  “There are very few archers in Iraq – perhaps only 150. We don’t have any outdoor fields for archery at all. We have to find quiet areas, there is just one area in the north of the country where we can do an outdoor training camp. No shade, no grass. I sometimes practise in the back garden in Baghdad but that is only ten meters.”

She goes off to more photos and more acclaim from the ‘home nations’. But the expression on her face looks pained. She looks like she wants nothing more than to get back out there and have another go. There’s a shy 16 year old there, with the will of a total badass. She’s my new hero.

In the men’s individual competition, Choi Yong Hee of Korea takes an individual gold. He shoots confidently, swaggeringly. It’s effortless. The win is also a loud warning shot fired around the archery world, and the warning is this: Korea intend to dominate compound archery exactly as they dominate recurve archery. The famous strength in depth of the KAA machine, with a huge base of second-tier recurve archers who already have a strong mental game and who could be persuaded to switch to compound, seems set to take over. The great white sharks are coming. They’re already here.


Podium pic (by Chris Wells)

Both USA compound teams finish with silver medals, in what has long been the their strongest event and an expected gold. Two of the men’s team manage to muster a smile on the podium, but by their own high standards, this shoot has basically been a disaster for the USA.

The working day finishes a little earlier, although with finishing our write-ups it lasts a bit longer. When you are having a conversation with a Belgian, a Nederlander, an Italian and another Brit about the minutiae of archery technical scoring in a gaudy hotel bar with ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ tinkling in the background, time flows in mysterious ways.


I get up at 6.30 and go for a swim in the Rixos’s completely empty pool. The hotel has been sparklingly good for five days. The world outside the bubble seems hazy, unreal. It’s been good to focus on this one thing and almost nothing else – has made me realised how distracted, how scatty I can get with the usual day to day nonsense. I haven’t shot for a few weeks, but it feels like I have. Like my brain is in gear. It’s my last day here.


(The great white sharks. Photo: Dean Alberga)

It’s almost all Asian nations contesting the recurve finals today, with only Florian Kahllund of Germany representing Europe, and not a soul from the Americas. The women’s team events are a straight re-run of London 2012, featuring many of the same names, with Japan facing Russia for the bronze and Korea versus China for the gold – although the Olympic results end up being reversed. I try and get some quotes out of the Chinese team afterwards; their translator is unhelpful and the women look at me like I’m from Mars. We finish the piece and move on to the men’s team, where the Korean men do what they do so well: winning, and easily. There is a slight grit to the performance after the women’s team only took silver. They are making sure.

In contrast to the Chinese, the Koreans are gradually opening up to the media. For years, you could get little more out of them except “I shot well, it was good, I was proud to shoot for my country.”  (In fact, Chris instructs me to strike the phrase “I was happy” from all quotes generated from winners. “Everyone is always happy!’)  So it is surprising to hear Oh Jin-Hyek talking about ‘weaknesses’ in the team – even if the ‘weaknesses’ he is talking about may not be the same weaknesses everyone else talks about.

With my new blue uniform I am actually getting the tiniest of respectful nods from the Koreans. The smallest of head nods, not quite a bow, but some kind of acknowledgement – and better than the glares I was getting last year. But I notice how the Korean coaches treat Juan-Carlos Helgado, the senior events director – he gets a nod approximately two inches deeper. They know my place in this lineup.

Having spent a few days watching the Koreans, I am increasingly convinced that they are deliberately maintaining a brand, and playing up to the image they have created of slick professionalism and machine-like dominance, because this serves a purpose: sowing fear amongst other squads, and maintaining the air of unbeatability.


Korea – supporting

But they aren’t a machine. They are beatable. They cheer, cry, lark about, chat and decorate themselves, everywhere but the shooting line. They laugh – a lot. They love the attention. But the great white sharks make sure to maintain their reputation, even if they don’t always catch every fish.  I’m sorry to leave the bubble, and the glorious sunlight, and all that staggering talent. It’s been like nothing else on earth.


All photographs are by me unless otherwise specified, and are © 2014 The Infinite Curve. 

There were many people I’d like to thank for this opportunity and making me feel so welcome, but especially:

Chris Wells

Dean Alberga

Matteo Pisani

Rahele Ahadpour

Didier Mieville

Chris Marsh

Tom Dielen 

Jon Nott

and George Tekmitchov. 

Olympic Archery in 1908

6 May, 2014

It’s British Pathé Tuesday, and I’ve dug up a brief clip from the London Olympics of 1908. Naples was originally scheduled to host the event before a devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius sunk that plan. London rose to the challenge, and organised a games in two years flat, building a single new stadium that held almost every event – there was a pool in the middle for the swimming events and raised platforms for the boxing, wrestling etc. Compare and contrast with what is happening in Rio.

There is just a brief clip of the women’s event here, although the whole thing is worth watching:

At the 1908 Summer Olympics, three archery events were contested. Great Britain sent 41 archers, France sent 15 men, and the United States sent one man. There were three archery events – the continental style, dominated by France, the men’s double York round, won by Britain’s William Dod, and the women’s double National round, won by Britain’s Queenie Newall – with William Dod’s sister Lottie Dod taking silver. Britain were always going to win the women’s event – all 26 entrants were British. 


Queenie Newall.


On the first day of the archery competition the weather in White City Stadium was so poor that the event was stopped at one point. On the close of the first day Queenie was behind Dod by ten points. The second day’s weather was much improved and Queenie overtook Dod, eventually winning with a score of 688 points, 46 points ahead of Dod who finished in the silver medal position. The victory made Queenie the oldest woman to win an Olympic medal, at the age of 53 years and 275 days, a record which still stands.

Queenie’s main rival, Alice Legh declined to compete at the London Olympics in order to prepare for her defence of the national title a week later.  She successfully defended the title against Newall, the Olympic gold medal winner, by a large margin. 

After the 1908 Olympics, no female British archer won an Olympic medal until Alison Williamson won the bronze in the women’s individual competition at the 2004 Athens Olympics.


a bow and arrow at #Sochi2014?

11 February, 2014

The Infinite Curve: bringing you all the vaguely archery-related Winter Olympic content. This is the ‘bow and arrow’ freestyle skiing manouvre performed by Dara Howell on her way to a slopestyle gold medal at Sochi this morning. I’ve watched it a few times, and I can’t ‘see’ it myself. Nor did the commentators, apparently – although they’ve not been covering themselves in glory these Games. See what you think!

Anyway, I’m proper stuck into the curling now, where #TeamGB have a good shot at a medal in both the men’s and women’s event.  Let’s face it, it’s basically archery on ice, isn’t it? 😉


Interview: Carina Rosenvinge

19 September, 2013

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Yay! Danish international and recent World Cup bronze medallist Carina Rosenvinge was kind enough to answer my questions as she prepares for the World Championships in Belek in a couple of weeks time. You can find her personal website here and her excellent Twitter feed here

How’s it going?

Things have been stressed lately. On July 1st I started my education to become a sales assistant. It takes 2 years and it has me working 37 hours a week, which doesn’t always work well with archery. Fortunately the department store I work for has agreed to fewer working hours for a couple of weeks so that I had time to practice for Wroclaw and also for the World Championships next month in Turkey. I now work around 25 hours a week with a couple of days off, which allows me to practice more. I also recently moved into my own apartment. I used to live with my parents, so it’s been a lot of adjusting to new things on my end. Things are starting to calm down – but Christmas is just around the corner and that’s ALWAYS a busy time of year when you work in a store.

Tell us about Wroclaw.

Due to working a lot I didn’t feel well prepared for Wroclaw. I managed to find my way in to making good shots during practice and my individual eliminations and made really good shots and scores during my matches. I made it to 1/16 with a good match against Kumari, with 28-27-28-29-17 on my scoreboard. I was happy with that!  As for teams, we couldn’t have asked for a better test run before the World’s. Anne Marie, Maja and I shot teams way back in our cadet years in a European champs back in 2007. We make a great team. We have a lot of fun both on and off the field and it payed off in Wroclaw with a bronze medal. We shot really good against the Russians all things considering. Tricky field with tricky wind, “new” team and all of us new to the World Cup scene when it comes to shooting for metal.

You are gearing up for the World Championships. What does a practice day look like around now?

My practice days are very different! I’ve had a hard time adjusting to the working schedule and it cost me quite a set back on the field. A lot of things happen causing me to practice differently than what I would prefer. It also depends on whether or not I’m working. I shoot for 4-5 hours, mostly on 70 meter. Tomorrow I have a day off and I will be shooting a full FITA round. This coming weekend we have a training weekend with the national coach.

Have you ever been to Korea?

I have been in Korea a couple of times, both for a training camp at Coach Kim’s archery training school and also for the World Champs back in 2009. It was my second seniors tournament and I came back to Denmark with a 7th place. I was only 18 and I was so excited!

Is there anyone else’s shooting you really admire?

I admire lots of other shooting athletes! To be a top archer – and any other athlete for that matter – you have to put in a lot of time and effort and I admire anyone who has the strength and will power to put up with the frustrations that follow with pursuing your dream. It’s hard work. It’s blood, sweat and tears but if you want it enough, it’s all worth it in the end.

Do you ever shoot field archery, 3D, compound, traditional archery etc. ?

I only shoot target archery.

Is archery growing in Denmark like everywhere else?

Denmark had an Olympic archery BOOM as a cause of the success we had at the 2012 Olympics. It was an amazing experience to compete in the Olympics and being able to do something for my sport and my country simply by doing what I love was great. Archery is fun!

Do you have any ideas how would you make international archery better for spectators?

I think it gets better time by time. At the Olympics the final field was probably as good as it gets. Stands for spectators on each side of the field and a big screen for cool video shots of the archers and the targets. It was a big set up, but it would be cool if it could be like that for every tournament.

So… why archery?

My brother did it and I was so sick and tired of him doing good and always being in the papers. I asked my mom if I would get in the paper if I did good in archery too. She said yes and I wanted to do archery. I also wanted to do and be good at something not a lot of other people do (in Denmark anyway).

What’s on your running playlist?

As in, for when I go running?  Something LOUD with a good beat. Something Chris Brown and Rihanna, always. I mostly listen to Chris Brown, Rihanna and Trey Songz. I am an R’n’B kinda girl, for sure!

Tell us a Danish joke.

I don’t think it would translate all that well. I’m really more of a sarcastic kinda funny 😉

Thanks Carina. Good luck in Belek!

London 2012 one year on: 1st Aug – men & women last 16

1 August, 2013

A year ago today I went to Lords Cricket ground for the second of three sessions at the Olympic archery venue. Here’s to the memories. 

Back to Lords again. Same stand. Almost the same seats. It really is a great venue, compact, easy to get in and out of, pretty, great noise, nice pubs nearby… Apparently, last year, Im Dong-Hyun was asked what he knew of London ahead of the 2012 Games. He replied “Two things. It’s always raining and it’s a country of gentlemen.” The words ‘gentleman’ and ‘Lords’ remain almost as bound as Compton & Edrich. Perhaps they could have picked an even more dramatic location for the archery – Battersea Power Station, maybe, or Hampton Court Palace (which would have been entirely appropriate) – but Lords turned out to be a first-class arena to see it in, really, even if the archers complained about the wind patterns.

It was an exciting day, despite the lack of a final. I got to see Brady Ellison shoot amazingly against Mark Javier, and then collapse against Taylor Worth. (Although Taylor also knocked out Alan Wills; naturally, an Australian knocking out an Englishman at Lords cannot possibly be acceptable 😉 ). I saw Simon Terry demolish a well-ranked Japanese archer, and then fall to a 16 year-old from Moldova. And I got to see Ki Bo Bae, as the top ranked shooter, shoot against the bottom ranked shooter Rand Al-Mashhadani, from Iraq, in a hijab, who had got in as a wildcard by making the minimum qualifying standard – a sporting mismatch of almost Biblical proportions. She looked nervous as hell, and kept drawing and then coming down again. The British public responded as they always do to an underdog, with massive cheering support. She lost 6-0. Makes you proud.

Archery Lords 2012 004

This is probably the best picture I took, just as the light and the shadows started to look awesome on the field. No rain today.

So afterwards I’m ambling, slightly drunkenly (it was sunny, and there was beer) along the street behind Lords as the stadium is emptying, and there’s a little yelp from a couple of Korean teenagers in front of me. And… oh my living God… Ki Bo Bae and Kim Bub Min are walking down the road. In front of us.

So Kim Bub Min ends up taking a picture of me and Ki Bo Bae, right there. Jesus. That’s like Boris Becker taking a picture of you and Steffi Graf. He even takes a couple because I’m looking down in the first one. What a nice guy. She looks a bit scared, I look a bit creepy. We make a wonderful pair.

So they spoke to me in Korean, and I gave them a good luck, and they wandered off to more signing and photos. Why are these people wandering around in the street? I mean, these people are… Usain Bolt doesn’t just go and get the tube back to his hotel after his heats, does he?

Video today: Worth v Ellison last 16. Read about it here

out with the old

14 October, 2012

End of the outdoor season, and we’re burning the old target bosses, after a chilly club Windsor shoot. My hands were numb. I didn’t even put in a second class score.

Some of our shot-out old bosses were Italian, caused by the Great British Boss Drought of a few years ago. They were tougher. Burnt last.

The club, stuffed with excellent barbeque sausages, gathered round and laughed and larked and drank red wine and and stared into the fire, like bands of humans have done for millennia. That glorious half-light of a damp evening, and friends, and the glorious smell of damp straw going up in smoke. As good as it gets.

“Facebook / Twitter? I turned it all off. “

10 September, 2012

Particularly interesting interview with Larry Godfrey from a local Bristolian website. Bold mine.

How did you manage to work and train in the lead up to the Olympics?

“After the Beijing Olympics I came back to work full-time and was then granted part-time status for three years. This meant I worked 20 hrs a week with flexible hours which allowed me to attend training and competitions. This is great support to get from your employer.”

What is it like training and holding down a job?

“This was my third Olympics so I am used to the working/training/competing cycle. I am back working full-time again now so today, for example, I will work until 4pm and then train at the archery club.”

Any similarities between archery & your day job?

“Definitely with the set up and tuning of my equipment I don’t settle for any small margins – I want perfection. I have suggested improvements that other archers have made to the set up and tuning of their equipment and they have instantly shot better. I work to margins of 1,000ths of inches in work so to me it comes naturally to apply this mindset to my archery.

“I strive for perfection in the way I shoot which is what I try to do in my day job – constantly trying to improve. We never settle down and just do work here which is how I am when I stand up to shoot arrows I am always looking for that next enhancement and how to improve on my last shot. So I think it is very similar and my work compliments my archery and my archery compliments my work.”

What support did you get from work colleagues in the run up to and during the Olympics?

“I’ve worked with the same great bunch of people for a long time. They’ve been with me through the three games now so there is a lot of banter but they do support me in my archery and with the job when I am away training or at competitions.

“I also received an email from our CEO John Rishton wishing me luck which was nice and at previous Games I received similar support from Sir John Rose. It’s great to know that people within the company are backing you and wishing you well.”

Did you receive support via Facebook/Twitter?

“I turned it all off. There was a lot of discussion about using social media before and during the Olympics. A few athletes have come out and blamed Facebook/Twitter for costing them their medals as they became obsessed and couldn’t ignore hurtful comments but I’m glad I made the decision to switch it off until after my games were finished. Afterwards I saw all the comments from friends and family and people I don’t even know who said that I inspired them to take up archery or to pick up their bow again or to commit to training. This included lots of children who are very excited about archery which is great for the future of the sport.”

What was it like competing in a ‘home’ Games?

“The home crowd made it the best arena I have ever shot in – everyone was firmly behind me. There were some surreal moments – walking out from the practice range to get to my match I had a line of troops either side all clapping me which was a fantastic experience. At my third match there was a group in the crowd all wearing masks of my face and I don’t know who they were or where they got the masks from but it was fun to see. I would have liked to have gone through a couple of more rounds just for the benefit of the crowd who were really enjoying the events.

“A lot of the Olympic helpers were friends and fellow archers from around the country. Being surrounded by familiar, friendly faces kept it low key, less hyped up and it being my third Olympics I had more of an idea what to expect. I felt fairly relaxed – the only nerves I had were just a bit of apprehension which you get before competing at any event.”

You were knocked out of the last 16 by one shot at the target – was that difficult to take?

“I went out in the last 16 and looking at the scores I finished 9th. I’ve done all the research and looked at the stats throughout the competition for myself and the four finalists and I was shooting better than the bronze and silver medallists – in fact I was shooting at the same level as the gold medallist. The way the competition is set up and the brutal single arrow decision meant I went out when I did but I was shooting at medal level. I’ve gone over and over all the data and I’ve put it down to bad luck.

“I was planning to pull out a Personal Best when it mattered most and I achieved just that I was confident and I knew I was good enough to win a medal – it just didn’t work within the setup of the competition. To be ranked 4th highest in the world behind the three Korean archers was a great achievement but unfortunately they don’t give out any medals for that.

“My Olympic experiences to date have been ones of bad luck I think. I came 4th in Athens when one arrow was blown by the wind in the semi-finals, otherwise that would have been a medal. I shot well in Beijing but my opponent in the 1st round shot fantastically and went on to win a bronze medal. In London I was shooting well but was unlucky on that last arrow. My opponent had a bunch of line calls which were in, I had a load that were deemed out and then on the last arrow I was hanging a little bit to the right so I aimed a little bit more to the left to give the arrow a chance to get in but still got buffeted by the wind. I looked at my opponent who adjusted and went right and he got a 10.

“Sport comes down to these fine margins. My shot could easily have hit the ten ring – and his could easily have hit the nine ring. That target is 70 metres away and the ten ring is the size of a grapefruit. I did everything I could possibly have done. But of course I’m disappointed I didn’t get a medal.”

It’s hard not to agree with his assessment that he was just unlucky in London. The wind whipped away a lot of people’s hopes. There is, of course, a random element to almost every sport, but few seem quite as capricious as the damnable wind; the djinn ready to strike and destroy a lifetime’s ambitions.
I particularly liked the thing about turning off Facebook and Twitter, something I do from time to time, and some people consider to be an excellent, even essential thing to do. Larry’s attitude towards his Olympic experiences is the life lesson that needs to be shown rather than taught – you do all you can, you give your best, and when you get knocked back you try again. The best you can give is enough. The process is the reward. His attitudes towards life and sport should be broadcast more widely than an interview in the local paper.
Of course, Larry failing to make the last 8 sealed the perception that the Team GB archers had failed, particularly after the avalanche of British gold immediately following conclusion of the archery. The success of the Paralympic squad added weight to both sides of the balance sheet. All that money (the biggest percentage rise in funding for any Team GB Olympic sport after Beijing) and home advantage, and not even a sniff of a medal.
I’m not criticising the individual perfomances – and Amy Oliver particularly punched above her weight – but there was definitely a sense of underperformance which no talk of wind and luck seemed to abate. No one was really expecting any of them to beat the Koreans, but if his arrow had landed in the ten, and he had gone deeper – who knows. Even a last eight finish would have gone some way towards redemption. The fine margins he talks about apply to the governing body and the Performance Unit too. Funding. Money. That single X10 arrow landing a couple of inches away from its intended destination may cause changes that will ripple down UK archery for the next Olympic cycle and beyond.