Shanghai came and went. The firmest fixture on the circuit, as they say. I was sad not to be there, but the jet lag is a nightmare and if you’d stood outside breathing the air for a week and felt the hacking cough develop at the top of your throat, you might want to skip it next year too. It’s also a tricky one as a spectator in Europe, because the team finals start at three o’clock in the morning in Europe, and even dedicated archery nerds like me are going to struggle to pull that off on a Sunday morning. (Full disclosure: I set the alarm, but gave up).
If there was a theme it, was: the big Asian teams have something on the agenda. The recurve category was notable for resurgent performances by Japan and especially the host nation China, who have been relatively quiet on the international scene since an indifferent Olympics. (I heard a rumour that huge numbers of Chinese Olympic athletes had been put on winter sports programs in advance of Beijing 2022, and I wondered if they’d got the archery team too). The quadrennial Asian Games, being held in Indonesia this year in August, are around the corner, and all the big teams are keen to make a mark.
It’s difficult to explain how big a deal the Asian Games is. The biggest multi-sport event outside the Olympics by some considerable distance, it is the ultimate sport-as-substitute-for-war; played out against a background of fierce historical and geopolitical rivalries, especially for the biggest nations: Japan, China, and South Korea. It has a lot of internal history too, running since 1951, with archery an event since 1978.
The Korean team count an individual medal at the Asian Games as part of their fabled ‘triple crown’ of archery success: Olympic individual gold, a World Championship title, and a gold medal at the Asian Games. (If I have this right, many have come close, but the only person to achieve this perfectly has been Park Sung-Hyun). It’s a second Olympics, really. A soccer analogy, if you’re in Europe, would be the status of the European Championships against the the World Cup. It’s almost right up there.
Peng Chia-Mao Photo: World Archery
On the finals stage, the Indonesian mixed team of Ega Egatha Riau and Diananda Choirunisa put in something very special indeed to deny the USA a bronze medal, showing seriously high quality on the stage. Vanessa Landi was fantastic, too. The women’s team final is worth another look. Chinese Taipei, who must be getting pretty sick of their reputation as ‘almost as good as Korea’, seemed to show a bit more composure on the stage, and kept things a lot tighter than before. They were probably a bit unlucky to lose. With Lei Chien Ying back in form and on frontline duties after a personal decline in 2016 and 2017, it’s just, just possible they could finally push past their great rivals in white, who, unfortunately, looked as good as ever. The trouble with Korea, is even when they seem really under threat, they have an incredible knack of pulling matches out of the bag.
Chang Hyejin is now firmly established in her role as both captain and anchor, as the senior hand. She was executing incredibly well, with a pace and crispness to her shot that reminded me of the day she won in Rio. The businesslike momentum of someone at the very, very top of their game. And she managed to give everyone a moment of pure joy with the second end of her individual final: three in the x ring barely three centimetres apart. Watch it again here. I sensed we haven’t seen the last of the silver medallist An Qixuan either.
The changes in finals structure with the ‘inline’ medal ceremonies immediately after category events, trialled in Yankton, was a resounding success watching as a spectator – keeping the crowd in their seats, speeding up the processes of athlete wrangling, and breaking up the day nicely.
The other big change was the Falco Eye output, showing the grouping of the arrows, finally made part of the production graphics. It’s still fairly rudimentary, but I’m really excited about it; I think it is going to be a powerful tool to increase archery as a spectator sport. Archery is woefully short of live statistical analysis at the moment. Imagine, after a team match, being able to instantly rank players, award a man of the match trophy, and prove who was the strongest. It’s going to be really, really important.
So I went to the very last Wroclaw World Cup to work for the World Archery comms team; the third time I’ve done this gig after stints in Antalya and Shanghai – although it’s not my first time in Wroclaw.
It was hot. Seriously, if you’d turned up in Poland, of all places, for a lying-by-the-pool sun holiday you wouldn’t have been disappointed. 35ºC / 95ºF and sunny all day right up until Sunday which was mostly overcast and muggy. Sounds great: until you have to sit in a sweltering tent, with sweat running off you, with every laptop and server fan screaming, desperately trying to keep the infrastructure working, and everything getting covered in dust. All. Day. Long. Every afternoon we kept dreaming of the lovely air-conditioned hotel and its infinite supply of lovely cold Polish beer.
You can read what we wrote about it and find all the results here. It was a much quieter affair than previous World Cups and the World Championships in Copenhagen. Many nations were saving their budgets or their archers for a double bill of the Medellin leg and the Rio test event.
Several familiar archery nations were absent (Korea, Chinese Taipei, Great Britain, Australia), fielding alternate teams (China, Japan), missing many/all of their usual recurves (Denmark, the Netherlands) or even flying solo self-funded without coaches (Mexico, Canada). Many team line-ups saw at least one change from Copenhagen.
The USA were particularly prominent on both finals days, and took home a spectacular recurve haul on Sunday. At least a couple of the performances were really strong and would have tested the best Asian first teams. The individual finals on Sunday were probably the highlight, and you can watch them here.
Previously I’ve extensively typed up what I got up to, but I’m not going to do that this time. I took a lot of photographs, and for the first time had a decent set of lenses which (mostly) worked pretty well, although I could have done with about another 100mm of focal length. I’ve been working on keeping things a little simpler; trying to improve the workflow and the image detail. It started slowly, but 1500 shots later I got a few I was pretty pleased with.
Naturally, Dean was there doing his usual superb work. I didn’t try to directly duplicate what he does, and tried to look for other things and other angles – although I couldn’t resist a ‘sunglasses-target-reflection’ or two. But I couldn’t resist borrowing (OK, stealing) a few of his ideas. Standing on the shoulders of giants and all that. OK, enjoy.
Thanks, as usual, to Chris Wells, Dean Alberga and the rest of the WA team.
(not really. Also, both stand-up guys to interview.)
Ane Marcelle dos Santos
I caught this picture just after what was clearly a bad shot when she turned towards the camera. The next frame is more of a scowl. I’m basically an asshole.
Recurve – men’s eliminations
Collin Klimitchek (left), Anton Prilepov (right)
Mahji Laxmirani (left), Rimil Buriuly
Still not sure what to do with expanses of scrubby grass. I love the lines and the rare chance to get a completely clean shot of an archer with anyone else or a lot of scopes getting in the way. But a lot of grass looks odd in a colour shot. Monochrome seemed the way to go.
Anton Prilepov, Alena Kuzniatsova
Nancy El Gibily
Sophie Planeix had a slightly fussy, almost ‘prim’ style which took her centre of gravity forward. Still, can’t argue with a finals place.
The Brazilian team had been on the road over five weeks. There were some great perfomances, but you could sort of sense they were all ready to go home.
Usquiano was way off her previous form in the final, and looked upset and uncomfortable throughout. I almost had an amazing shot of her bowing her head with Avdeeva punching the air. Is it remotely in focus? Is it bollocks. The ones that get away. (Chris was very pleased with this one.)
Stephan “The King Of Denmark” Hansen
The fountains behind only properly erupted once an hour. Never quite managed to get the perfect shot of them and someone on the line. Tried, though.
Finally, after a few years of trying, I manage to get an image of Brady Ellison that gets close to capturing the intensity of the performance. He’d not seemed entirely comfortable in the anchor role all week, and a couple of team chances went begging. It looked at times like Collin was the one holding the team together. You could sense the pressure – probably self-inflicted.
But when he needed to deliver it, on the last arrow, it was there. He found it. It was great to be that close when he did.
A left hander on the German team I’d not seen before. I enjoyed his confident and elegant draw.
Delivered the fightback of the week against Mackenzie Brown in the final. She’d been nailing the shootoffs all Thursday long, not out here though.
Richter has a habit of closing her eyes, being very still and going ‘into the tank’ between head-to-head shots. It was great to watch. And it worked.
Great archer, great to watch, really nice guy in person. As good as it gets.
This is my first outdoor World Cup. I did a small international with the British team in Mexico in November. I have competed in a couple of international indoor competitions such as Face2Face, Vegas, Nimes and Telford.
How are you feeling now, three days out from the start?
I only found out I was going a couple of weeks ago, so I haven’t had much of a chance to think about it in between making sure everything is ready. I’m excited to be going to my first World Cup and massively grateful to Archery GB for giving me this opportunity.
What are your goals for Medellín?
My main goal is to stick to my shot process and enjoy being in this environment for the first time.
What did your typical practice day for this tournament look like?
A typical practice day would be:
Close blank boss – 20-30 arrows
70m- 3 ends practice followed by a scored 720 (6 arrow ends)with 10 minute break halfway
Distance or close blank boss 20-30 arrows
Gym- Stability or Core program
Close blank boss – 20-30 arrows
70m- 3 ends practice followed by a scored 720 (6 arrow ends) with 10 minute break halfway
Somedays I will change the afternoon session a bit, either shooting 9 or 12 arrows ends for more volume, or adding in some matchplay practice.
What riser & limbs are you currently shooting and why?
I am currently shooting a Smartriser XM1 with Win&Win Ex-Prime limbs. I’ve spent a lot of time since the end of January testing bows and this is the one which performs the best on the range.
When I first heard about it in 2012 I was curious but sceptical. Having the opportunity to test one this spring was great. On opening the box I could see that this was a piece of equipment which had a lot of thought gone into its design and manufacture. The click adjustment system used for the tiller/ poundage is a great example of this.
The innovative use of structural carbon plates mounted an aluminium chassis along with internal hydraulic damping means that while the riser only weighs just over 960g, it still feels solid. The reduced mass of the riser means that I can use a lot more weight on the stabilisers, which of course adds to it’s stability.
I am still waiting on some results from more quantitive testing but the scores in practice are doing a good job of justifying my choice.
Do you believe in luck?
Yes, it’s just probability in action.
How do you maintain confidence?
I’m really fortunate to have a lot of support from the staff at the Archery GB Performance unit. I work closely with the psychologist who helps me to stay focussed on the things I am in control of as well as positive facts about my performances in practice and competition. Breaking down things which are worrying me into achievable chunks makes tackling daunting situations manageable.
Being able to work with Songi and Lloyd who have both worked with Olympic medalists is a big confidence boost. Between them they have a massive amount of knowledge which I have a lot of faith in.
Simple things like taking photos of good ends and recording scores could help every archer looking to improve.
What’s your favourite sport apart from archery?
I have a taste for extreme sports, anything on the Redbull TV channel and I’m interested.
Do you have any ideas as to how to raise archery’s profile?
Archery has a growing profile as it is. Nottingham City Council’s support of the National Series and European Champs in 2016 is a good example of this, as well as plans for the University of Nottingham to build a purpose built indoor archery range.
I think one way to progress archery is to introduce staged levels of competition. Archery is one of the few sports where a beginner can compete alongside an elite archer, events like the indoor World cups take this to the extreme. Having secondary competitions at these events adds an extra dimension which allows more people to be really involved in competing. Similarly expanding the National Series Finals to include the top eight qualifiers makes reaching the final an achievable goal for a lot more people, which will help raise the sports profile.
I really like how the regional university leagues give teams a chance to compete regularly, in a similar way to World Cups and, closer to home, the National Series. These series create an environment for producing narratives which can be used to sell archery. Opening these events up to spectators who might not have considered watching archery by hosting finals matches in iconic public locations is a great way of presenting archery to the world.
I’ve been meaning to do another video on an updated version of the nocking point I am now using. I would like to do more I’m just not sure what to do it on. Any suggestions welcome!
OK, some slightly less serious questions….
There’s a rapidly expanding trend towards selfies on social media in international archery. I presume you are not intending to buck this trend this week?
We’ll see. When I find myself in situations which would probably make a good photo I often don’t think to get my phone out, I know other members of the team are likely to be taking photos so I retweet those and enjoy the moment.
Wrocław. Turns out I’ve been pronouncing it completely wrøng. I was giving it something like ‘rock-law’. The little bar through the ‘L’ (which I now know means that the consonant is velarized) means the pronunciation should be something like ‘vroucksluof‘ – although I have heard a few variations from people who should know. There you go. A little lesson in Polish. ‘Thank you’ is pronounced jenkooyeh and ‘I don’t speak Polish’ is nee-yah moo-vee-yah popolskoo, which should cover pretty much anything else.
I’m at the field by 8am for the mixed team action. My hotel, one of three official ones, contains the Columbian, Indian and Polish teams (and some drunken tennis players). The mood on the bus is thrumming, excited. I haven’t picked up my hideous green ‘TV’ bib today, and I hope no one will notice. I may be in the ‘media’, but I don’t need to be marked out quite that badly.
As the sun rises over the stadium, I watch the team of Naomi Folkard and Larry Godfrey shoot the mixed team event, losing by a point to Miranda Leek and Brady Ellison of the USA. The atmosphere is relaxed. The male/female mixed event is relatively new to international archery, and listening to the archers chat, there’s just a hint that it’s not taken quite as seriously as the individual and team events. After Team GB get canned I give it what I think is a respectful 15 minutes or so and sidle over to Naomi, Larry and coach Lloyd Brown, spying a journalistic opportunity. I start brightly, but get near silence. Grunts. Oh dear. “How do you think it went today?. This morning?” Huge pause. Naomi answers:
“Well… it went… but… it didn’t happen.” Everyone looks at their feet.
“Sorry, just trying to get, ah, something out.”
Larry answers: “Yeah, but it’s possibly not the right time.” He slumps in his chair a bit. Lloyd Brown looks at me like I’ve just trodden in something. This isn’t happening. I consider abandoning it right here and running down the field. No, that would be worse, wouldn’t it? Wimping out of a difficult ‘interview’? Best course of action is to clumsily plough right on, right?
Eventually Naomi Folkard takes pity on me and answers my set of questions about what happens to people when they get knocked out (they stay till the end, cos there’s no refund on the flights), sightseeing in strange countries, why she puts talcum powder under her chin, and what she puts on the top of her tab to build it up (Plumber’s Mait). I leave them my card and get out of there. Note to self: leave any sportsmen at least a week after they get knocked out of anything before trying to get any questions out of them.
I wander over to the practice field, which is heaving with archers of all hues, including, buzzily, all the Koreans.. The women are wearing their ‘coolie’ hats, which look spectacular in the sun. There’s a few archers who are definitely knocked out of every event still practising, though. Heads down. The Australian squad have changed into denim shorts. Lee Seungyun, the youngest Korean on the men’s team, shows me his tab, with interesting trimming and an extended reference-y bit on it reaching back past his wrist, a classic bit of Korean arcana. People are busy. Today is the compound eliminations followed by the recurve and compound eliminations to the semi-final. It’s a long day.
Both John Stubbs and Danielle Brown, two of the UK’s finest para-athletes, make it through the compound eliminations. I tweeted this picture of them which I took almost immediately after they had been knocked out of the team event. That’s British spirit for you. This leaves four Team GB athletes including Naomi Folkard and Alan Wills in the running for an individual place as I wander out for lunch into the suburbs of Wrocław. On the corner of this bright field, awash with carbon and nylon and hope and misery, there is a curious cave-like and silent pub, brown wood and darkness, which serves lunch and perfect Polish beer, tart and tall and very very cold in this sunshine. I’m the only one there. There’s no drinking going on at all, what with alcohol being a banned drug under international rules. When I get back the mood of the whole field has shifted, this being the final stage of individual eliminations. There’s a tension in the air, a sense of worry.
If you’ve never seen an archery tournament before, this is how it works. There are strict lines across the field, only the archers may stand astride the ‘shooting line’ when called by the clock, their coaches must stand behind the ‘equipment line’ a few metres behind. I am allowed, for some reason, onto the ‘photo line’ in the no man’s land between the two. The coaches usually stand with their eye pressed to a small scope trained on the target; most archers cannot see what they have scored at seventy metres. Some coaches bark, some suggest adjustments, some just give thumbs up and moral support as necessary, plus clock countdowns if the time is ticking. All the Korean coaches look and act like particularly strict nineteenth century schoolmasters. It’s the way. Most squads have to share coaches. Team GB have one between six recurvers. The Koreans have one coach each. This tiny nation has long been dominant in international recurve archery, and took three out of the four gold medals at London 2012. There are myriad reasons why, but one that is increasingly clear to me is that they just work much, much harder than everyone else. Teams which have started working just as hard have started achieving similar results. People are tweeting me to take pictures of their bow handles, trying to find out the secrets. Taking a Korean scalp in an international tournament remains an achievement that will gain you respect in this world like nothing else. The other athletes are even proud just to shoot against them.
One of the problems with the sport at this level is that the performances often come down to one or two arrows. One or two, of the hundreds of thousands an international archer will release over his or her career. A head to head round at the Olympics might be over in six minutes, a little longer here. You have spent tens of thousands of hours perfecting the art to focus it all on this point, and pray that you are not found wanting. Or worse; that the wind will blow away your hopes like the djinns. Luck. One or two ‘bad’ arrows, to sink the ship you have been sailing for years. You can see the fear in people’s faces. With the apparent exception of the perpetually smiling and apparently talismanic Aida Roman, who greets almost every passer-by on the field with joy, there isn’t much sense of play. Finally, the field is allowed to shoot a couple of ends of practice arrows at the competition targets. A sense of relief. The waiting is worst.
Unfortunately, all four Team GB athletes get canned in the 1/16. John Stubbs goes out to Choi Yong Hee of guess-where. I leave ‘Stubbsy’ ten minutes after his match, and bound up to him as he is packing up and try and ask him some questions. I never learn. To my surprise, he answers my “How did it feel?” somewhat differently from the recurve team. Straight back at me, he says: “I’m proud of myself, to be honest. I could have just turned up and been rolled over. Hopefully people will take note of disabled people and realise it’s a level playing field. I’ve been doing this since 1997 and it’s my first World Cup.” What a guy. I end up having a lengthy chat with Stubbsy, Becky Martin and a member of the staff whose name I forget about why recurvers should practice with compounders, expensive bowstands, Korean archery bootcamps, bow finishes, the hierarchy of hotels (guess who is in the best one), Pringle flavours and much else. Only the GB women’s team are left in it now. The whole squad will have to sit in Poland for the next three days regardless. That’s gotta be a drag. Loved ones and jobs be damned. You’re stuck here watching other people shoot for the medals.
I watch Ki Bo Bae’s second match against Ksenia Perova of Russia, when Ki is shooting next to Oh Jin-Hyek. They were a couple last time I checked. Neither of them even look at each other once in two whole matches. Not once. I am assuming that means they’ve split up, and presumably badly (or they’ve had a massive row, at least). She wins, entirely as expected and immediately sits down looking like someone has just shot her dog. It’s tough at the top.
The accompanying music on the field today has gone from a bit weird to palpably insane. During the individual 1/8 the ‘DJ’ plays between ends a bagpipe version of Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You. The staggering display of world class talent that is the recurve semi-final, in glorious dipping sunshine, the beautiful pings and rolls and arrows arcing across the sky is done to the tinkling background of the ghastly Locked Out Of Heaven by Bruno Mars, almost, but not quite, completely faded out. I seem to be the only one who has noticed, everyone else is in their own little special interest zone. The worst kind of music as noise; as filler, as aural wallpaper, no thought given. Music could be used differently as a cue for spectators and archers alike, as a mood setter, as something to create an experience unlike going into the bloody supermarket. This was one of the most jarring aspects of the competition for me; if World Archery want the sport to expand, gain more exposure and sponsors and spectators, this is something I think needs addressing. I mean, they could start very simply. You know, by not playing a bagpipe version of Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You.
The sun gleams brighter and lower. I can feel it on the back of my neck. There’s less and less people on the recurve field and more and more of them are Korean. Eventually only Alejandra Valencia spoils the party by winning a shoot off – seven out of the last eight recurve archers in the semi-finals are Korean, including all the men. You can feel a slight collective sigh at the return of the script for the denouement. It didn’t have to be this way, but it is.
But Alejandra is fantastic. Electric. Her shot cycle seems to draw up power from the centre of the earth. Nothing is wasted. It all goes down the range. She feels the fear and does it anyway. There is a serenity about her work to an outside observer, although God knows what is churning inside. She is as inspiring as she is inspired. More than ever today, archers looked lonely out on the field. Difficult. Afraid. Fearing themselves and their own abilities.
In the men’s compound, astonishingly, three men have shot a perfect round of 150. Fifteen arrows all landing in the ten ring at fifty metres. Sergio Pagni of Italy and Dominique Genet of France both have 150, and have to shoot off for a place in the final. Genet goes first. He looks through his scope, and gives an utterly Gallic shrug. It’s a ten, but Sergio’s ten is nearer, and twenty Italians roar. Pagni is in yet another final, and cements his position as one of the greatest compound archers of all time, whereas Genet becomes the first archer in history to lose a match despite shooting nothing but tens. The 150 rounds are becoming more frequent at international competitions. Perfection is the new standard.
Ki Bo Bae and Ok Hee Yun will face off for the women’s gold on Sunday, and Jae Wang-Jin and Lee Seung-Yun for the men’s. In recurve archery, many nations have tried, but all but one have failed. The relentless effectiveness of the Korean recurve machine, notorious for 1000-arrow-a-day practice routines, has been proven again in spades*. Practice out your fear. Practice away the djinns. Eliminate your fragile self from the doing, the execution. If you can.
* [FRIDAY EDIT] at least until the women’s team final, anyway…
More detailed news here. Live scores here. Finals this weekend. Special thanks to Maciej Laba.
I arrive in Poland like a hurricane that’s just been downgraded to a tropical storm. I am knackered from a stupidly early flight from London; luckily World Archery are kind enough to pick me up from the airport for a token exchange of zloty. I get to the field just as the mens and womens compound qualifications are winding up. Two football fields knocked together in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium, built in the 1920’s when Wroclaw was still a part of Germany. Apparently it was renamed with the ‘Olympic’ bit in the folorn hope of hosting some of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. You know… that one. My host is Maciej. He has a dry, and frankly, British sense of humour. I like him immediately. I am given a green ‘media’ bib that makes me look like a fat leprechaun linesman. Just as I arrive, double World Cup champion Sergio Pagni breaks the European record for the 50 metre compound round with a staggering 714 out of 720. He looks superbly pleased with himself in the awesome way only an giant Italian man can be. “Can I take one more picture?” “OHH, yes.” What a man.
I get the largest coffee I can scrounge. It’s pretty easy to tell how things are going even without the single scoreboard screen next to the entrance. You can easily see an air of despondency hanging over some of the camps. They play some frankly strange choices of music in between ends; I hear ‘Punky Reggae Party‘ closely followed by ‘Bette Davis Eyes‘. (Still, that’s better than whoever was ‘DJing’ at London 2012, when Lords was treated to the Macarena just after a crucial semi). Slowly the forests of expensive hardware, mostly Hoyt, are packed away and the targets get moved back to 70m ready for the recurve men and women. There’s a five-way shoot off for the coveted eighth spot won by Dave Cousins. Erika Jones of the USA came top of the women’s ranking, and submits to an interview. Danielle Brown and John Stubbs, two of Team GB’s finest, are solidly placed for the next day.
A dozen nationalities. It’s a bit of an archery nerd’s paradise. You only have to turn round too fast and you realise you’ve knocked over Viktor Ruban‘s bow stand. Look! there’s… oh, and… and… OMG!… wow, that’s… everybody. The collective talent is terrifying. I even get a smile and a respectful nod from Dean Alberga, the international archery photography capo di tutti capo, resplendent in his ‘Media 01’ bib. The recurves are warming up in the practice field next door, including a full-strength Korean squad, all of whom are byed straight through to the next day after an utterly dominant display in the qualification FITA round on Tuesday.
Teams wander past. Coaches are spread thinly amongst three man or women squad members, who might be eighty metres apart down the field, and have to frequently split loyalties. I speak to the ridiculously young Becky Martin, who is on her own waiting to start the 1/48 eliminations. She did well yesterday, coming 36th out of 90, in her first World Cup. How do you feel, Becky? “Pretty good, was pretty happy, made the top half of the draw.” How was warming up this morning? “Just did a bit, not too much.” Her bow shoulder is troubling her. What’s the problem? “Not sure, I don’t know anything about anatomy!”. She seems confident though, and proves it by hammering Holly Stover of the USA 7-1 in the 1/48. I watch Amy Oliver‘s shot cycle carefully. Her technique is fantastic, but the pause after each shot, where she collects herself, head down, looks like she is staring into an abyss of her own making. Whatever. She beats her first Turkish opponent convincingly.
In the 1/24, I watch the match between Elisa Barnard of Australia and Ika Rochmawati of Indonesia; where the collective support of Archery Australia has lent proceedings more of a Test cricket feel than most matches this evening. Unfortunately, she slumps to a defeat, as does Rebecca Martin. Naomi Folkard, conqueror of the World Games, goes through to the last 32 against Jennifer Hardy of the USA who is still wearing a shirt with her maiden name on the back.
I briefly catch up with Taylor Worth on the practice field as the men prepare for the eliminations. Regular readers will remember that I interviewed him for the blog a couple of weeks ago. He isn’t feeling strong. “Not the best comp I’ve ever had.” He finished 67th of 98 in the ranking round. Could be worse, I suggest? “Not really.” His body language screams that it’s just not happening today, and it seems to prove self-fulfilling; he gets thumped 6-2. Kieran Slater of Team GB, who had a disastrous qualification, gets thrashed by the hero of Antalya, Juan-Rene Serrano of Mexico. The set play is difficult for a spectator, with the long wait as the clock counts down and the athletes trudge across the field and add up the arrows, relaying them to the handheld digital devices that link directly to the live scores that beam round the world:
…and finally change the resolutely manual Velcro scoreboard below the targets. Of course, I should have brought a scope or binoculars, like the vast majority of participants.
Someone asked about the gear. There’s not much to say really, because everyone pretty much uses exactly the same stuff; Hoyt F4/F7 and Ion risers or Inno Max / Inno-Ex Prime, you have to look long and hard to find something not made up of at least one of that lot. You’re nobody without your customised Angel quiver though. I did enjoy Thomas Faucheron‘s Uukha plus Blades kit. The stealth bomber of bows:
Team GB have had a fairly ropey day; Larry Godfrey is out. A final trace of sun does a late streak across the field. It’s the kind of light I have been hoping to take photographs in all day, but unfortunately things are winding up, finished by an exciting double shoot off between Daniel McLaughlin of the USA and Bernado Oliviera of Brazil, the first of which is deemed to close to call. There’s a slightly downcast collective air as everyone trudges to the buses, a mixture of exhaustion and the terrible ennui, for half the recurvers, of failing to make the cut. In Four Iron In The Soul by Lawrence Donegan, one of the best books about golf ever written, the constant misery of failing to make the cut, the next day, is replayed endlessly. The emotional turmoil of matches that you know, deep down, that you could win – but don’t – must eat into these people’s souls.
Not everybody, though. Deepika Kumari sits in the seat in front of me, and softly sings all the way back to the hotel.
Full scores for the day are here. Many more pics here. Tomorrow: mixed teams, compound eliminations to the last 32, recurve eliminations to the last 2.
Have been enjoying the reports from the first stage of the World Cup in Shanghai, which has had about a foot of rain in the last day by the sounds of it. This video (above) is good for explaining the structure of the tourney. You can see the live results coming through here. Plus, I really want one of these Fivics umbrellas…
Looking forward to the footage as it comes in. Trying to track down who is streaming the finals on Sunday at the moment…