Giant on the move
Off target and aquiver — archery is harder than it looks
With our flags fluttering high above the Beijing archery venue, my German opponent and I nodded to each other in a show of mutual respect ahead of the sudden death shoot-off. The score was tied at 2-2 — the next one to burst a balloon in the middle of the target was the winner.
Our instructor for the day, the archery federation’s dashing event director Juan Carlos Holgado, moved us back 30 metres from the target and we let loose. Some 15 minutes and 20 arrows later, the only thing to have burst was our confidence.
This was the first time I had shot an Olympic-style recurve bow and it was a lot harder than it looked. Watching the archers practise from 70m out made it look so easy, but just to hold the bow at arm’s length without quivering was quite an effort.
How long would it take for me to compete at the highest level?
“A minimum of eight to 12 years,” said Holgado. “Once you have the physical, you must have the mental. The mental is what makes the difference between the good and the great archers.”
I obviously possessed neither the mental nor the physical. Holgado even had to stop me from peering out of the wrong eye when I was aiming.
“You are left eye dominant for distance,” he said kindly.
The German and I called it quits at 2-2. There was no shame in sharing the gold.