Tag Archives: TeamGB

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!


“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.