Chilled-out Anderson leaning on Rio accomplishment

12 septembre 2017
Beijing (CHN)
South African para athlete Shaun Anderson lived life in the fast lane during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

One year on, he has decided that it’s time to step on the brakes. After the ‘electric intensity’ of Rio, the 44-year-old compound archer – who described himself as the ‘wildest child’ in Rio – has calmed down, spending 12 months training and coaching.

“Coming back after Rio was a downer,” Shaun Anderson said. “Everything was so intense and exciting and then it was done.”

Anderson experienced an equipment malfunction during the ranking round in Rio. He then lost his first match to Nathan MacQueen of Great Britain.

“After, I stepped back and looked at everything. When I looked at the results, I felt like I didn’t succeed but then I thought about how much I grew and saw the real accomplishment,” he said.

Anderson lost his job after Rio, and was forced to take time to think about what he found important. He began coaching para athletes and children five days a week, combination his own training with teaching others.

“I never imagined how much I would learn from coaching. Seeing the children and how they react to accomplishing their goals, it is just amazing,” he said.

“The children helped me realise that the little goals are important and they are stepping stones to greatness.”

Shaun qualified for Beijing in February and then had surgery on his right shoulder. He did not shoot for six months and focused, again, on coaching.

“The shoulder surgery was a good reason to take a break,” he said. “I wasn’t shooting, but I was coaching and my subconscious was still working. I needed that.”

“I’m using every event as a stepping stone. My goals are to get good arrows. I want to see how I’m feeling and how I do.”

Shaun, competing in the compound men’s open category, shoots with a custom shoulder brace that he designed himself. He triggers the release with his mouth and has practised intensely since returning from surgery.

“I wasn’t going to come if I was not ready,” Anderson added. “But I’m ready. I’m not quite at full strength but I’m ready to put myself out there.”

Over the next few months, Shaun sees himself ranked top 10 in the world.

“I want people to see my attitude and see me as a role model,” he added, but his mind isn’t just on his own legacy: “We have a goal for South Africa archery to host a World Cup stage event.”

Whatever else is going on in life, in Beijing – with old friends – he’s on the line.

“I’m shooting archery for Shaun Anderson now and only Shaun Anderson,” he said. “I still represent my country, South Africa, but I’m shooting for myself.”

“I’m relaxed and ready to see what happens.”

The 2017 World Archery Para Championships run 12-17 September in Beijing, China.

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