Tag Archives: AWC

God Is My Hero: Shanghai World Cup 2015

15 May, 2015

In May 2015 I went to the first stage of the 2015 Archery World Cup to work for World Archery, reporting for the website and interviewing athletes. This is a personal account of what I got up to. You can watch the finals, read the news pieces I had a hand in, and check the results here:

I already put a lot of the better photos up here, and there’s more on the Facebook page.
All photos are © The Infinite Curve. Contact me if you want to use them. 

Shanghai Airport Terminal 2, shaped like a bow.

Shanghai Airport Terminal 2, shaped like a bow.


Shanghai goes on and on and on. Long before you reach the actual city itself, you fly in over a flat, repetitive landscape which is entirely man made. Smallholdings, vast canals carving up tracts of land, and factories. This is the manufacturing belt. Most of the world’s consumer goods are produced within fifty miles of Shanghai. Just with what I have in my bag on the plane, it looks like I’m taking my headphones back to see their ancestral home, and my camera lens. And my MacBook. And my iPhone. Probably the chargers, possibly the pens, probably the bag fabric if not the bag. Probably at least half of my archery kit. It’s all made here.

Pudong District, Shanghai

Pudong District, Shanghai

I am driven in from Pudong airport with most of the Brazilian recurve team, an hour on the road through an immense grey sprawl. Our hotel, one of two housing the archery circus, is a 90s curiosity with a gaudy lobby maintaining a grandiose, marbled air of communist-era theatrics. The main tower goes up 42 stories, and in my room on the 39th there is a Blade Runner-esque view of the Pudong district at night. To the north is a vertical jumble that stretches to the horizon, and everywhere, everywhere they are still building, for countless miles in every direction. It makes the London development boom look like a man considering a new shed in B&Q. 

The archery world cup has seen a permanent edition here in Shanghai since 2009 and will be here for at least another five years; it is now a defining part of the series. The story starts again tomorrow.



Oliver Haidn, Germany’s head recurve coach.

Official practice day. Glorious sunshine. The athletes and staff are ferried from the hotels a couple of miles to the Yuanshen football stadium in a fleet of coaches, buses, minivans and taxis. Driving in central Shanghai is a furious, honking jungle where only drivers who sharpen their wits survive. It’s like driving in Rome with even more smoking. Luckily our driver has the sixth sense necessary to make a left-hand turn across six lanes of traffic with mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians flying in all directions. 

Once inside, there is an entire World Archery staff and ten judges to fit out with brand new uniforms courtesy of sponsor FILA, and the media room resembles a branch of Sports Direct shortly before Saturday closing. Next door is the technical and scoring room, maintained by Matteo Pisani and his mostly Italian team. They have coffee in there. We also need to re-photograph every athlete and coach on the field for accreditation. There’s a lot of work to do. 

Once in in my spiffy new uniform, my job here is to report for the World Archery website, and specifically, interviewing athletes. I work under Chris Wells, the head of communication; for the first few days, we split the work – I mostly do recurve and he mostly does compound. The days are long, and it never really stops. You end up dreaming about it. 


Bernado Oliveira.

I am also taking a lot more photographs these days on my own account. Shortly before leaving I invested in a second-hand Tamron 70-300mm telephoto zoom, which is giving me better results than I expected. When there is nothing dramatic happening, getting out on the field and taking photos is a way of shaking things up – not only can dicking around with a camera be a good way of ingratiating yourself with people, it can be a generative act in itself. If you can find something interesting in the frame, it might be interesting as part of the narrative of the event too.


However, I realised a long time ago that there is no point in trying to replicate what Dean Alberga is doing; I don’t have the talent, the equipment or the extensive personal access that he has built up over the years. More to the point, I don’t have the remit – that’s his job. So I try to look for other things, shapes and lines, odd moments, and often things not at full draw. My photography is improving, although I am still amazed at Dean’s reaction time and his ability to deliver such amazing work so fast. It is by standing on the shoulders of giants that I manage to get one of my pictures used by the Korean Archery Association, and another, later in the week, by ArcheryGB


Zahra Nemati

I am working through a jet-lagged fog for the first couple of days, and it’s difficult to concentrate. (I’m not the only one – I see archers asleep all over the field for the first couple of days). A decent night’s sleep proves elusive all week, and we all make frequent runs for energy sustaining treats. I have never worked on any team with a sweeter tooth, and the parade of hot chocolates, cream buns, ice creams, cheese cake and sugary Chinese delights that appear over the course of the tournament would make a diabetic hyperventilate. And who would have guessed that one of the Colombian compound team was a fully-qualified dentist?


The ranking round itself. The shakedown. It’s a bit like going through the education system – it’s not necessarily going to dictate your fate in life, but it’s really likely to. 

The Korean women are here. The rock stars.  These people are gods. Everyone wants a photo with them; volunteers, staff, judges, coaches, other athletes, security guards. I manage to restrain myself. This time. 


Kang “The Destroyer” Chae Young and Choi Misun.

Today, lucky me, I get to talk to a astonishing list of athletes. I get to talk to men called Brady, Crispin, Taylor and Reo and women called Maja, Deepika, Aida and Bo Bae. I talk to Asian Games champion Esmaili Ebadi. I talk to Brazilian wunderkind Marcus D’Almeida, who has been feeling the pressure. I talk to the extraordinary Zahra Nemati. I talk to several of Team GB, who are not having the best meet. We talk to the interesting squad from Bhutan at their first world cup. 


The stadium gets floodlit after 5pm, lending proceedings an unreal air. A lot of hopes are dashed. All that work, and what to show for it? There’s a lot of frustration in this world. Over the course of the week I get to hear a mountain of bitching, several official “no comments” on the subject of coaches, well-known athletes describing other well-known athletes as “f**king shit” and “that greedy f**king bitch”, and a great deal of incredibly salacious and occasionally entirely scandalous gossip about everyone and everything in elite archery. I would love to be able to share it all with you, dear reader, but I can’t. I’ve been in bands long enough to know that what happens on tour, stays on tour. Them’s the rules. Although you could sum quite a lot of it up as: not all the scoring takes place on the field.



Individual qualification. The top 8 in each discipline are byed through two rounds. In recurve, this includes seven of the eight Koreans, and the first couple of rounds, from some angles, look like a sideshow until the doors of the shark cage swing open.

Today I get to interview former Chinese national archer Zhang Juan Juan with the help of our local fixer Alex. She won individual Olympic gold at Beijing 2008, beating three Koreans back-to-back on the way. She’s good fun, clearly experienced at fielding media questions, and has the relaxed air of a sports champion who will never have to buy a drink again. (You can read this interview here). 

As the competition closes up, with recurve and compound on the field at the same time, it’s hard to keep track of what is going on and Dean, Chris and myself run around furiously trying to keep up. With the big screen only cycling information every couple of minutes, you rely on other things. I mean, you can tell by the way Aida Roman walks off the field whether she’s won her match or not. As it becomes clear that there is barely a crack in the Korean recurve machine, interest and athletes drift away. I watch the carnage continue and chat to the sharp and fascinating Bernado Oliveira of the Brazilian team, who has had a great run today. 

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Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world, phone pic out of the taxi window.

Work wise, we are having trouble with the creaking Chinese internet, which falls over every few minutes like a clattered-into-bowstand. The scores aren’t updating fast enough. We need access to the databases to get anything down, and most of us have to use a VPN to leap The Great Firewall Of China, which adds an extra layer of tedium. Matteo and the rest of his team are late every night fixing technical niggles, swearing in Italian. The Iranian squad bring us a gift of a huge sack of roasted pistachio nuts seasoned with ras-el-hanout, the shells of which soon cover every inch of the media room. Most nights we miss our hotel dinner working. There’s not enough coffee. It’s a hard life. It’s not, really. I wouldn’t have missed today for the world. 


Team rounds. Compared to the previous days, they don’t take long. It’s the last stage of competition before the finals, so unless you’ve made those, that’s it for the week. Those last two points. That one arrow that just hates you. Most teams at these events are booked on unchangeable flights, and have to sit around for two to four days before heading home to jobs and families. Options are pretty limited: train, sightsee cheaply, support teammates who have made the weekend finals, and always: wonder what might have been. 


After the weekend’s shooting has been decided the production team heads for the finals field on the picturesque waterfront. We are all crammed into two tents by the immensely busy Huangpu river, the busiest river by traffic in the world, across the way from the Bund. Not a minute goes by without a low-in-the-water freighter carrying aggregates or a ridiculous gaudy sightseeing boat going past, and the foghorn blasts reverberate for five whole seconds back and forth across the water. The Shanghai bells punctuate things frequently. We run through a technical rehearsal in torrential rain, with some unlucky lads from the Singapore team having to stand out there and shoot in the pissing gloom. 

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For some reason the Korean coach has agreed to my request to interview the women’s team. I have hurriedly got a long list of questions translated into Korean on paper (thank you Jessica!), the list is a mix of philosophical and slightly more personal; we have been trying to ‘open up’ a few teams to add more depth and colour to the coverage. “Is perfectionism a positive aspect or a negative aspect?” and “When you are away at a tournament, what do you take to remind yourself of home?”.  Not many archers are used to this kind of thing.

In the evening, I wait nervously in the lobby. At the appointed time Ki Bo Bae, Chang Hye Jin, Kang “The Destroyer” Chae Young, Choi Misun and Mr. Kim, one of the six Korean coaches out here, all troop down to the hotel bar, all dressed in black, eyeing me slightly suspiciously. I sit there with four of the greatest target archers in the world, and turn my recorder on. It turns out they have all read the list of questions I helpfully provided in advance and are fighting amongst themselves to answer them. Ki Bo Bae elbows me in the ribs when I ask her “What do you like to spend money on?” There is a lot of laughing and it ends up going pretty well, with a stark moment from Chang Hye Jin, who answers my question about heroes like this: “Hero? What kind of hero? Like, my own hero? God. God is my hero.”

I just got elbowed in the ribs by Ki Bo Bae. I JUST GOT ELBOWED IN THE RIBS BY KI BO BAE.



Lexi Keller

Compound finals day, aka ‘Compound Saturday’. We open for business at 11am. It’s hot. The sort of muggy weather that makes nylon stick to skin. I am sat next to the local Chinese crew member responsible for the video screens, who spends most of the next two days asleep with his head on the desk. Still, I have an excellent view of the line and don’t even have to stand up to take a decent photograph of right-handers. The Swiss TV production team, who communicate in French, take up most of the room, although English is the lingua franca of everybody working. Everyone has a vital job to do. There are no spare cogs in this machine. 


Maja Marcen

Last time I was doing this gig in Antalya I managed to walk in front of a TV camera whilst trying to get some dumb photo for Twitter and deservedly incurred the terrifying wrath of Marion, one of the TV producers. I decide to make sure there is absolutely no chance of doing this again and avoid the field of play entirely, so going back and forth to the production tent involves a long walk round the main stand and then chasing athletes up and down a long stretch of waterfront. There’s a lot of walking-and-talking. I must have covered about five miles a day. Also, I start interviewing athletes on camera for the Hit The Roof team, instead of just getting audio. The Korean and Japanese men are better friends than I imagined. Lee Seungyun speaks English, but doesn’t like to *ahem* talk about it. This is all very strange. 

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Of many highlights today,  I get to speak to Dominique Genet, veteran French compound archer. A man with a face that looks as if it was carved out of granite.  A man who ends up taking home a 16th world cup medal. A man who answers all my questions with an entirely Gallic, utterly disinterested shrug. He’s awesome. 


Dominique Genet.


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Recurve Sunday brings with it a ratcheting up of everything we already had on compound Saturday: more people, noise, media, volunteers, VIPs, gladhandling, sunshine, and things to do. The crowd is such that the seats are filled an hour before kickoff and people are thoroughly annoyed at being locked out. 


Ki Bo Bae sizing up the empty finals field.

As the Korean National Championships unfold, we are relying on a mix of the ever cheerful Mr. Kim and remote audio translation (thank you Jessica!) to get as much as we can out of the squad. We can barely get the Korean athletes to the media zone in time for an interview before they have to get them back on for another match – or a medal. The mens team get clipped by Japan in windy conditions, giving us our morning story. Ki Bo Bae is a big star here; her name, announced twice, gets the biggest roar of the day. The sole Chinese team to make it to the weekend, contesting the less-glamorous mixed team bronze match, unfortunately fail to medal and have to face a angry-looking local media scrum. 

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Unfortunately, the display of Korean dominance doesn’t make for great theatre. By the time it gets to the women’s individual final, you can sense that the energy has gone out of the crowd a little. Teammate battles are never that exciting, but the day has several other great matches to recommend it. It’s a privilege to watch this close. 

There’s a bit in the rather corpulent Korean national anthem that sounds like the last verse of Once In Royal David’s City including the descant. I have now heard it enough times to be able to hum along. As the last medal and Longines watches are handed out, the media wing of the tent begins a race against time to file the stories, photos and video before the entire production is entirely torn down around our ears. 

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Night falls. People leave for flights. The flightcases are filled, we leave the waterfront shortly after nightfall, and go for pizza and rather more than one cocktail. The gaudy boats are passing back and forth, and the skyscrapers are glowing bright. Trade is good. Shanghai will survive without us for another year. 


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

Chris Marsh

Tom & Nathalie Dielen 

Aimee Barnabe

Fernando Suarez

Thomas Aubert

and Cécile Dagbert

Interview: George Harding

12 May, 2014


George Harding, 26, is shooting recurve for Great Britain in the upcoming World Cup in Medellín starting on Wednesday. He took some time out from preparation to answer my questions.


Is this your first senior international?

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:
Warm up
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
Warm up
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- Strength or shoulder prehab program
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.

You made an excellent video on YouTube about nocking points. Any more how-to videos in the works?
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.

What were the last three tracks you listened to?
Lupe Fiasco – Kick, Push
The Libertines – Ha Ha Wall
Jack White – Freedom at 21

What have you got in your pockets?

Not a lot. Keys, phone and wallet.

I’m going to give you a list of things –  for each one, pick an example of that thing that represents you:

…a computer game

…a mode of transport 
Jet pack

…a TV box set for binge-watching
My Name is Earl

…a football team in the upcoming World Cup

…ice-cream flavour
Choc Chip

…Beyoncé song

Finally, tell us a joke. 
What did Jay-Z call his girlfriend before getting married? Feyoncé.
Cheers George. Good luck in Medellín!


2013 Archery World Cup Final: Paris

25 September, 2013

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*.

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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?

Archery World Cup Wrocław: Day 3 report

21 August, 2013


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.