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Rising to the occasion: everybody feels nerves on the finals field

25 August 2014
Nanjing (CHN)
Archers shoot all their individual matches in the archery arena at the Youth Olympic Games and some athletes are finding the experience a steep learning curve

“It’s completely different shooting in practice, on the qualification field, to shooting in the finals arena,” explained Regina ROMERO, the Wuxi 2013 World Archery Youth Championships finalist who lost in the second round at Nanjing this morning.

Drawn against China’s LI Jiaman, the Guatemalan archer couldn’t find her rhythm. She lost in three sets.

Nanjing 2014 21-26 August
Youth Olympic Games

Fri 22 Aug Ranking round
Sat 23 Aug Eliminations
Sun 24 Aug Mixed team finals

Mon 25 Aug Girls finals
Tues 26 Aug Boys finals

See full schedule

Explaining that she found the match hard but enjoyable, with tears in her eyes, Regina had nothing but complementary words for LI – who is the only one of the 64 competitors at the Games to take to the field for her individual matches without a coach.

“You feel the pressure because everybody’s watching you,” continued ROMERO. “Everybody’s expecting good arrows.”

“Nerves are something you have to control. The archer that wins the match is the one that best controls the situation.” Regina said that her mind flooded with thoughts that didn’t help her shoot her best.

Despite the loss, she’s enjoyed every second of the Youth Olympic Games – as has Chinese Taipei’s FANG Tzu-Yun.

She, too, lost her second round match thanks to nerves, but got a taste for the attention Olympic competition brings. “The attention was great,” FANG said. “All the spectators, photographers and media – it’s really exciting.”

For ROMERO, coping with the extra pressure that the attention brings is just something she needs to work on: “I will train more on controlling my nerves and work on my insecurity when shooting. I’m really insecure.”

Usually, it doesn’t show.

Both Miasa KOIKE and Ana MACHADO have displayed this ability to rise to the occasion that is necessary to win head-to-head archery matches. They won their second round matches in Nanjing by shooting 10s in shoot-offs.

Now into the last eight, Japan’s Miasa was only ranked 22 after qualification. She beat sixth seed Viktoriia OLEKSIUK (UKR) this morning.

Four-nil up in set points after Viktoriia’s poor start, the match levelled up at 4-all – then the pair drew the last set. Miasa drilled a 10 while Viktoriia could only manage a nine.

“When it matters, I concentrate and bring the best archery I have,” said Miasa, making it sound so simple.

Ana MACHADO stumbled in the fourth set of her match against Indonesia’s Diananda CHOIRUNISA, shooting a 23-point set to level the set points at four each.

In the last end, Ana started with an eight; it didn’t look good for the Brazilian girl. But she finished with two 10s – one had to be called by the judge as it was finely cutting the line – and forced a set, and match, draw.

She then watched her opponent shoot a good 10 with her tiebreaker arrow.

Ana didn’t look phased, though. “I was very relaxed,” she explained. “I knew the way to win was to shoot better – and that’s exactly what I did.” MACHADO proceeded to plant her arrow in the X10 before calmly walking from the shooting line.

Her coach, Evandro DE AZEVEDO, explained the reasons behind the relatively-inexperienced athlete’s confidence: “she has all the attributes, the tools, to win the match: the mental, the physical and the technique.”

For those who have it, the ability to come up with the big shot when it’s needed in head-to-head competition is irreplaceable. As the recurve girls’ field thins during Nanjing finals this afternoon, which of our 2014 Youth Olympians have this particular skill will become even clearer.

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