Britain’s Frith “comfortable” in Paralympic archery arena
Great Britain’s Jo Frith, a European Champion in the women’s W1 event competing at her first Paralympic Games, said she felt “really comfortable” in the Rio 2016 archery arena after having the chance to test the field during familiarisation.
“It was really great. The last finals field it reminded me of was the worlds in Germany, but it’s lusher – it’s greener, more compact, very comfortable out there,” she said. Artificial grass covers the concrete floor of the Sambodromo, Rio de Janeiro’s famous carnival stadium, which plays host to the Paralympic archery competition as it did the Olympic event.
Fifty-five year-old Frith started archery in 2012, but said she wasn’t phased by the biggest stage in para archery.
“I’m very fortunate that I’ve been to two World Masters Games, which are multisport events, so this kind of scenario is very common to me. I wasn’t worried about it at all. For me, it’s just focusing on the archery, not getting distracted by what’s going on around me,” she explained.
Frith and teammates Jessica Stretton and Vicky Jenkins are the top three ranked W1 women in the world arriving in Rio. All Paralympic debutants, they’ve been through a comprehensive preparation progress in advance of the Games.
British head coach Mike Peart said the squad had even replicated the Paralympic format during selections.
“Normally, we have the competition condensed into a few days but here we have one day, just one discipline. So we’ve done a selection shoot to replicate that and also we’ve done a training camp where we’ve gone day by day, hour by hour through the Paralympic schedule, so we can best learn from it and be better prepared,” he said.
The team also has the knowledge of some of the most experienced athletes on the 2016 Paralympic field to lean on.
John Stubbs, a returning Paralympic Champion, and five-time Paralympian John Cavanagh – the oldest athlete in Rio at 60 years of age – offer a veteran’s perspective in a team that has taken eight total archery medals through the past three editions of the Games.
“From London obviously we had the home crowd so the home expectation. Here it’s all about the heritage of this event, or this carnival stadium – so I think from the archers’ perspective, we just want to come here and show the world what the Paralympic archers can do off the back what the Olympic archers did,” said Beijing 2008 winner Stubbs.
Since London, changes to the competition have included alterations to the classification classes and the introduction of the mixed team, replacing team events.
While early-round matches in 2012 were shot in pairs in the arena, each and every match in Rio will take place separately.
“It’s nice that everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. Their fame for 15 minutes, even if they lose their first match, they get the same show as everyone else,” said Cavanagh, who won gold at the Paralympics in Athens in 2004.
Jo Frith hopes her time in the spotlight lasts further than one match.
“I’d like to be on the podium. I think everybody’s dream is to win a gold medal, and obviously that’s my dream as well,” she said.
“I’d be happy to get a medal. I’d be happy to get on the podium. That would be a great result for me.”