Archived. You are reading an archived article and the content may be outdated.

3 September 2010 - Three 1992 Olympic medallists reunited in Shanghai

Archers/Officers > Tab (Inv) > Interviews > 2010 > 0903 TERRY/FLUTE/HOLGADO [English]
Three 1992 Olympic medallists reunited in Shanghai Shanghai (CNH) – 3 September 2010   No less than three medallists from the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games are in Shanghai for the World Cup Stage 4: the individual gold and bronze medallists Sebastien FLUTE (FRA) and Simon TERRY (GBR) have both come out of retirement and are shooting at the highest level again. As for the Olympic team champion Juan Carlos HOLGADO (ESP), he travelled to Shanghai as the World Archery Events Director.   Archery is one of the few sports that can be practiced at the elite level at any stage of life. Proof is the recent comeback of two great champions from the past, the gold and bronze medallists from the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games Sebastien FLUTE (FRA) and Simon TERRY (GBR). Both came out of retirement after several years out of the sport and are competing at the World Cup stage 4 this week. What made our past Olympic medallists quit the sport, and what pushed them to start competing again, almost 20 years after achieving their greatest success? What is their perspective on the development and evolution of archery since their retirement? And how did they adapt to the changes that occurred in the archery world as they entered a new stage of their sports career?   Simon TERRY (GBR)    Great Britain’s Simon TERRY surprised himself and the world by winning two bronze medals as an 18-year-old at the 1992 Olympic Games. The young archer had taken part in only one or two major international competitions before, and was just hoping to place among the top 32 individually. “I defeated the likes of Jay BARRS and Vladimir ESHEEV, which was totally unexpected. I remember thinking ‘Wow, I beat such great archers’.”   The Briton went into an early retirement from the sport in 1994, just two years after Barcelona. “I had just turned 20 and felt I’d had enough,” explains TERRY. “I had been shooting for 11 years, having had my first competition at age 9. I never had time to go out with friends; I just went to school and did archery. I fancied having a bit of a life really, and I wanted to try other sports. I wasn’t shooting very well in the last year and I had lost enthusiasm and drive for the sport. One thing led to another, I stopped practicing and going to competitions. I didn’t touch a bow at all until 2005.”   Then, after 11 years out of the sport, TERRY was coaxed into again picking up his bow and arrows—the same bow he had been shooting with in Barcelona. “We have a local paper and there was a little spread about archery one day that got me thinking. I joined the local club and started shooting with a compound archer who put me into every competition we could get into. I just did it for fun and it all snowballed from there. After just one year of training I came 4th at European Indoor Championships in 2006. I competed in a shoot-off against the new Olympic champion Marco GALIAZZO with my 14-year-old bow.”   Simon TERRY went on to win the team silver medal at the World Championships in Leipzig 2007, where he also placed 4th individually. He was among the top contenders of the World Cup in 2009, winning the Stage 3 in Antalya and placing 2nd at the Final. TERRY is now in a very good position to qualify for the World Cup Final 2010 that will be hosted by his home country. “My main aim is to qualify without having to use the British wild card, so I would like to make it in the top 7.” Simon TERRY will also compete in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October, where archery will be included for the first time since 1982.   The story of Sebastien FLUTE runs parallel to TERRY’s. The French archer discovered archery in 1983 at age 11. Nine years later, having just become world indoor champion, Sebastien was selected to compete at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, where he won the individual gold medal. Several world and European medals later, Sebastien competed in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. He placed 8th individually and retired soon after these Games.   “I quit the sport completely in 2000,” explains Sebastien. “I wanted to concentrate on my professional career, which I had really neglected from the moment I became an elite athlete. I came back in the archery world slowly, when the French Archery Federation (FFTA) organised the 2003 World Indoor Championships in Nimes and needed a TV consultant. I must admit I didn’t really miss archery at the time. I enjoyed watching and commenting it, but the thought of coming back as a competitor didn’t even cross my mind.”   What brought the French champion back to archery in 2009, after nine years out of the sport? “I decided to come back after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games where I travelled as a TV consultant. On that occasion I realised how much I’d been missing the adrenaline of the competition since I quit the sport in 2000. Apart from the adrenaline I was also missing archery and the shooting itself. After the Games I took time to reflect on a possible comeback. Was it realistic from a technical and physical perspective? I was older, the general level had changed and so had the organisation of my life. To take up elite sports again would be very demanding. After 3-4 months I decided it seemed within reach, even though the timing towards London 2012 would be extremely tight. I started training again on 2 February 2009, approximately six months after the Beijing Olympics.”   The world of archery had changed a lot since the days when FLUTE was competing. The development of the sport culminated with the creation of the Archery World Cup in 2006.   “I think the creation of the World Cup was the major change in the sport of archery. This element made archery evolve in terms of event organisation, participating nations and media coverage. These are new factors in our sport. We now have a real circuit with a very high standard, which can be compared to the professional circuits in other sports that have existed longer and generate the biggest media interest. Archery has become a product we can sell. It is easier to find commercial partners if we can offer them 5-6 competitions every year, even more if you count the indoor events. Last but not least, as an athlete the World Cup is a great motivation. The possibility to earn points and advance throughout the season and compete more frequently at the highest level than in the past is a great motivational factor. It’s actually one of the elements that played a role in my decision to come back.”   What do you hope to achieve when you have already won the most important title of all? Sebastien FLUTE answers that his goal is “of course to get back as soon as possible to the medal contenders and to qualify for London 2012. I know better than most people what it takes to win the Olympic title. My major ambition is to get back among the world’s best and to be able to fight for a good result in 2012. The magic of the Olympic Games is what makes me wake up in the morning and want to train,” says the French archer.   FLUTE was 20 in Barcelona and TERRY 18. Their lives have changed a lot since 1992 and after their retirement. Behind FLUTE’s comeback lies a strategy aiming to adjust his life to his new archery needs.      Sebastien FLUTE (FRA) “The road to London is long,” starts the French archer. “Since January I have had the privilege to train fulltime. Between 2009 and 2010 I was combining an archery career with my professional life in an insurance brokerage firm. For one year I commuted from training between 6-9 a.m. to work until 6 p.m. Every other day I had a training session in the evening, and every other weekend I took part in a competition. After one year, I came to the conclusion that I had reached a satisfying level in terms of sports performance, and that I couldn’t keep up at the same pace, physically and mentally. I couldn’t be the most efficient possible in both my work and my sports career at the same time.” Fortunately, Sebastien FLUTE had launched a line of archery equipment in 2005 in partnership with Win & Win (among others) that was starting to generate enough revenue to compensate for the eventual loss of his salary. “So I chose to quit my job after the Tournament of Nimes 2010,” explains FLUTE. “I now shoot a minimum of five days a week, usually twice a day. I am enjoying my newly found freedom. I don’t have the salary of an executive anymore, but it’s the price to pay for this freedom.”   Simon TERRY confesses that “I have no idea what brought me back to the elite level. Performance just improved every time I picked my bow up. Then I got selected to go on the teams and one step led to another.” The British archer feels “lucky that I’m shooting fulltime now and don’t need to work thanks to governmental support”. In the United Kingdom the competitions take place on the weekend, so TERRY typically shoots from Monday to Thursday, has Friday off and then shoots competitions on weekends.   Our champions have mastered the difficulty of coming back to the level that was theirs before, but have also had to catch up with the ever-improving level of international archery. Both archers agree that as a consequence, their preparation requires more time and covers more diverse aspects than in the old days.   “It’s a lot more intense to compete now, a lot more stressful,” according to TERRY. “I train more than when I was younger: I try to train every day, whereas before I didn’t train that much, maybe four days a week. I now do more mental training. Since I started back in archery, I estimate the game is 90% mental, so the preparation of this aspect takes a lot of my training. I have a mental/psychological teacher who uses the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). She is also a former British international archer. I’m sure I have improved in the last 18 months thanks to her and her husband’s help.”   “I am training differently now,” says FLUTE. “I must work more on the physical plan because I’m older and it was already one of my weaknesses before. I also reset my archery technique. It’s easier to do it after a long break than if you never stop practicing. I also started to work more on the mental aspect with the staff from the French Federation. It’s an aspect I had not explored before. So my preparation is now more complete than before.”   Such a preparation is necessary because “not only has the general level of the sport developed, but also the number of strong archery nations has increased compared to the old days,” according to Sebastien FLUTE.   Our champions must also adapt to the new rules that have been introduced in world archery competition this year, such as the set system in recurve archery.   Simon TERRY has lost a match he would have won under the old competition format at the European Championships in Italy earlier this year. However, the set system appears to have worked for him in the World Cup until now. TERRY admits to getting nervous easily in competition and remarks that “the set system certainly helps me relax a lot better.”   Asked about the recent modifications in the competition rules, Sebastien FLUTE assesses that “changes are good as long as you have a well-defined strategy towards a specific goal. I competed under several formats and enjoyed the change to the match system. From an archer’s perspective, I’ll give you my opinion on the set system when I’ll have more experience shooting in it. As a spectator, I think it makes the hierarchy more open and keeps the game alive up until the last arrows. The match can turn upside down from set to set. Under the old system you could clinch a match from the first end, which made it easier for the most consistent archers. The changes created a real difference between the two disciplines, which is precisely why they were introduced. As archers we still have to get used to it, and we older archers are the most resistant to changes.”   Nonetheless, our champions from the past have one undeniable asset over their younger counterparts. “My main advantage is that I already went through it all, I have gained experience both from my victories and my defeats.” “But you’re always learning,” adds Simon TERRY. “You cannot rely only on experience.”   Coincidentally, Sebastien FLUTE and Simon TERRY were paired against each other in the first round of the men’s recurve elimination at the Shanghai World Cup. The battle was superb between our 1992 Olympic medallists. Both archers started with a set of 53 points. The French athlete then scored 10-9-9-8-8-9 for another 53 points, better than the 8-10-8-9-9-9 from TERRY (50 points). Roles were reversed in the last set. FLUTE had 9-9-7-9-8-8, but TERRY did 8-10-8-9-9-9 (50 to 53) to tie the match at 3 set points each. In the one-arrow shoot-off, both athletes scored 9, but TERRY’s arrow was the closest to the centre and he won the match.   Juan Carlos HOLGADO (ESP)    A third medallist from Barcelona watched the game from the sidelines. Juan Carlos HOLGADO, who became Olympic team champion in 1992 at the age of 24, did not travel to China as a competitor—he works on the side of the organisers, as the World Archery Events Director. The Spanish archer stopped competing in archery in October 1995 following the World Championships in Jakarta. “The reason is that our team didn’t qualify for the Olympic Games in Atlanta. We had been professional archers with salaries from 1989, and as a result of the non-qualification, we lost the support from the government and needed to find a job.”   Juan Carlos HOLGADO had two options. “One was to work in sports administration or management; I had some offers in Madrid and in my city of Caceres, but that was going to move me out of archery. The other option was to become a coach, because we had several international coaches in Spain, but after the non-qualification we were going to lose them and have no coach for the next Olympiad. My academic background is education and high performance sports, and I had some experience in coaching, having trained amateur and junior archers as a hobby. So I offered to become the coach of the junior team and the resident athletes at the Olympic Training Centre in Madrid to the Spanish Archery Federation and the Olympic Committee. They accepted the idea even though I didn’t have a lot of experience. They invested in me, enabling me to evolve as a coach by sending me to the Olympic Training Centre in San Diego (USA), to France, so that I could learn from them. That’s how I became a coach over a period of just one month from a competitive archer.”   However, Juan Carlos HOLGADO soon had to come back to shooting. “During my first year as a coach, the gap between the junior archers I was coaching and us, the older generation, was too big. The new archers I was coaching were not good enough to compete alone at international competitions and they needed a more experienced archer to push them. So in 1996/1997 I had to be both competing and coaching the national team at the same time, which was a very difficult combination. By 1998 the juniors had improved enough for me to stop shooting in the national team.”   After coaching the Spanish archery team at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, HOLGADO started a career in events organisation. He was the Technical Operation Manager at the Athens Olympics in 2004, before moving to Lausanne to work at the FITA Office as the Events Director. He now shoots archery as a hobby, from time to time.   “Archery has changed completely,” analyses the former Spanish archer. I would have loved to have the events and the philosophy of the competition that we have now back in my time. We former archers love the sport, but we had to give up our career for several reasons—to find a job, get married and start a family or simply because we were not competitive enough. The new situation of archery with the World Cup is very attractive for us. The ones who have found a good life situation or have found sponsors have managed to come back. I personally think it’s fantastic to have people like Simon TERRY and Sebastien FLUTE come back.”   Juan Carlos HOLGADO notes that “our sport offers the possibility to have a unique and healthy combination of young people and more experienced people. For the experienced archers the young ones are a good challenge, and for the young ones the experienced archers are a good example to follow. It’s a good goal to beat them,” concludes the former Olympic champion.   Vanahé ANTILLE World Archery Communication