How archery helped Karel Davidek beat addiction

18 September 2017
Beijing (CHN)
Davidek had a difficult life before archery gave him focus as a para athlete.

Roman Suda is the president of a sports club in Plzen in the Czech Reublic, where Karel Davidek now shoots. He began the story:

“Our sports club is closely related to an institution of social care for people with disability in the region. Karel came there about eight or nine years ago as a very desperate young man,” said Roman.

“He had broken his neck by jumping into shallow water, he was homeless with a history of drinking and drug use. He was living nearby with his brother in a small town, and they were on the streets.”

With Roman’s help, Karel gradually started to try archery. His first proper coach was Barbora Horáčková, who shot for the Czech Republic at Beijing 2008.

“Although she almost gave up on him, because he still wasn’t in good shape,” said Roman.

Karel added: “I had to finish with marijuana before I could really start on archery.”

Roman gave him some time to think about his priorities in life and Karel made a decision.

“A few months he was back and doing archery, and staying clean. He has this history completely behind him now," said Roman. Karel was helped along the way by fellow Czech archer and 2015 World Archery Para Champion David Drahoninsky

Now, Karel has a job and a flat and is in charge of 30 people in a manufacturing department – and doing archery with all the time he has outside work. He even has a range for practise there.

“I wake up at 4am. From 6am to 4pm I work, and after that I shoot. Apart from work, every minute is spent on archery. When I didn’t do archery, I did nothing,” said Karel.

He competed at Donaueschingen in 2015 and, now, in Beijing – after taking his first ever aeroplane flight.

"I have to say he’s the star in our club, currently,” added Roman. “He’s famous in the community for changing his life, being a role model now. Archery allowed him that opportunity.”

Karel has a competitive drive, too.

“If I didn't have archery, I'd be miserable. But if I’m still shooting like I am now, getting better and better, I’m expecting to be in the top five within a few years,” he said, grinning and adding:

“What part of archery do I like most? The podium.”

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