Thursday, August 02, 2012

Olympics 3: Archery

As an event in itself, this was the one that I was least excited about going to. To be honest I only applied for archery because of the iconic location, Lords cricket ground. I am a die hard cricket fan, so the idea of watching any sport at the home of cricket spurred an interest in me.
I walked out after nearly 4 thoroughly entertaining hours a convert not just to archery, but on a much wider level to the cause of all the more random little known sports at the Olympics. People with a common dedication to a sport that is largely ignored for the intervening 3 years and 50 weeks between Olympics, come together from the four corners of the planet (literally, with people competing from as far afield as North Korea, Mexico, Denmark and Bhutan) to show the world the results of their hard work and honed ability. Crowds who turn up with little or no knowledge of the sport throw themselves into supporting any and everyone, cheering every arrow and making the experience such a special one for the competitors.
Again, the setting helped. The archers walk out from the historic terracotta pavilion to rapturous applause and are greeted by a beautiful arena. A few steps forward and they take their positions on the relatively narrow shooting area which is flanked by two large stands especially erected for the competition and opens out to the cricket square and then, eventually, the targets. I have to emphasise just how far it is and just how small the target is. That is something that just does not come across on the TV. When someone is shooting a "bad" score of 7 out of 10, that just means they have missed the bull by 30 cm from something like 70 meters.
Like the other two events we have been to so far, there was a real festival atmosphere. Going to the Olympics was clearly very special to so many people at Lords, whether because compatriots, friends or family were competing, people came from far afield or from just around the corner to take their kids to this one off event. This had a cumulative affect to produce a jovial and celebratory air.
The highlight of the morning was undoubtedly GB's Amy Oliver getting the best result of her career, knocking out the world number one from India. She shot her heart out, feeding off raucous support from the crowd. So many GB flags, one of them wrapped around my little boy. Also fantastic were the loco Mexican fans and the exceedingly enthusiastic South Koreans, who cheered on their countrymen to the later rounds.

A couple of perfect sets (three bulls for a score of 30), a fighting loss by a charismatic Dane, an eventual defeat for the Brit and huge cheers for the not so proficient Bhutanese lady later, it was time to head home. A great morning and I even got to stroke the hallowed Lords turf on my way out!
Next stop boxing...
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