Folkard coaching British cadets in search of Youth Olympic spots
All three of Great Britain’s recurve cadet women at the 2017 World Archery Youth Championships fall into the age bracket that makes them eligible to compete at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, being born between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2003. Like these worlds, the Games are also taking place in Argentina, but about four or five hours down the road in Buenos Aires.
If one of them does secure a spot, there’ll be a British selection tournament in 2018 that decides who attends the event.
“It is playing on my mind. I do really want to go,” said Alyssia. “We haven’t really spoken about it as a team yet because obviously we all want the place.”
“We would all support each other with the place, so it wouldn’t be like we’re going to fight over it. We’re not going to be sore losers or anything.”
Although it’s the first time this young cadet team is shooting at the world level, the trio do have an experienced athlete standing behind them in the box.
Four-time British Olympian Naomi Folkard, who shot the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit in 2017 after saying she’d wind down her career following the Games in Rio, is coaching her first international in Rosario.
“She brings a lot of knowledge. We ask her questions while training about the different Olympics and conditions and if anything has gone wrong; just genuine questions. And she does give us some good advice,” said Thea.
Folkard went to her first Olympics in Athens in 2004, when she was 21.
The opportunity the Youth Olympic Games offers, in experiencing the Games environment prior to the main event, is something the veteran international sees as valuable for up-and-coming archers.
“The quota tournament, for example, the fact that only so many people are even allowed to go to the Olympics; experiencing that before going for Tokyo or the next one is useful,” she said.
“Whether you’ve experienced something and failed or experienced it and succeeded, you can put that knowledge and learning into the future.”
Folkard will shoot at the World Archery Championships in Mexico City one week after competition concludes in Argentina.
She’s been practising at home and will weight train with her bow when she can fit time around her coaching duties with Alyssia, Thea and Louisa, and the rest of the British youth team at these worlds.
“It’s quite odd because I need to think about what I need to do to prepare my best, not what others need to do to prepare their best. So I feel like I’ve got to be even more of a team player,” said Naomi.
For now, Folkard’s focus remains on the girls, the World Archery Youth Championships and that potential space to the Youth Olympic Games.
After years of shooting events around the world, though, she’s already got her coach speak down to a tee:
“We’re trying just to treat this as a normal competition and if they win a place, awesome. It’s not the end of the world if they don’t. We’ll try and alleviate any pressure that they might be feeling.”
The 2017 World Archery Youth Championships run 2 to 10 October in Rosario, Argentina