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23 March 2010 - Vanessa LEE (CAN): “Archery is setting an example for other Olympic sports”

Archers/Officers > Tab (Inv) > Interviews > 2010 > 0323 LEE Vanessa (CAN) [English]
Vanessa LEE (CAN):  “Archery is setting an example for other Olympic sports”   Vanessa LEE from Canada is an aspiring young archer who competed in the World Cup event in Antalya 2009 and the World University Games 2008. She recently won the Olympic Congress video contest which won her a trip to attend the Olympic Congress in Copenhagen. Here is what she has to say about Olympism, her experience in Copenhagen and archery. Vanessa with the President of the IOC Jacques ROGGE in Copenhagen Congratulations Vanessa on winning the video contest about the future of the Olympic Games! First of all could you tell the main message of your video for the readers who haven’t seen it? When the IOC asked us to tell them what we think the future of the Olympics will be, I had so many ideas that I had to narrow it down—I still ended up with quite a few points. The overall main message of my video is that the future of the Olympics is bright! I first talk about the Olympic Games continuing to be the world's premier sporting event. I also envision athletes from developing countries—not only participating in a wider variety of sports but even setting higher athletic standards for other athletes in the world. I look at the future of youth in competitive sport and foresee that the Youth Olympic Games will be a valuable way for young athletes to embrace Olympic Values and Olympism from an early age. I then talk about the world being united through different means of communication and broadcasting the Olympic Games. And finally, I mentioned that I believe the Olympic Games will eventually be hosted by developing nations that have yet to welcome the world.   Please describe your experience in Copenhagen. How did it inspire you as an athlete and student? I wouldn't be able to do justice to the entire experience merely with my words and vocabulary, or lack thereof. It was an incredible experience to be in the room with some of the world's most influential people and individuals who have contributed so much to the world of sport. All the people at the Congress were looking for ways to better the Olympic Movement, which was both a humbling and inspiring experience. As an athlete, I was inspired to really work hard to achieve my Olympic dreams. I saw how much work the IOC, NOCs, and IFs were putting into the Olympic Movement and it made me want to be part of the Movement even more. As a student, I was first inspired to study very hard so that maybe one day I could be on the Athlete's Commission or other sector of the IOC.     In Copenhagen with the FITA President Prof. Dr. Ugur ERDENER and the FITA Secretary General Mr. Tom DIELEN  Throughout the Olympic Congress, I tried my best to represent young archers around the world. And during one of the break-out sessions, I had an opportunity to speak in front of many delegates and IOC Members, where I talked about the positive values the sport of archery instilled in my life. I talked about how I started in archery and how, while watching the 2004 Athens Olympics, I was inspired by PARK Sung-Hyun to strive to be a stronger person. I wanted to show Congress members that youth are not only interested in the entertainment value of sports but are also attracted to positive role models and life lessons that can be learned through sport. Some positive values that have been instilled in my life through archery include: good work ethic, trust in myself, fair play, and even cultural awareness. One lesson that I am struggling with today is learning from failure. I have found that although success gives you confidence, learning from failure gives you an inner strength that not even your own self doubt can extinguish. Archery is truly a sport that has taught me important values that I will have for the rest of my life. I really hope I was able to promote the sport in any way I could. Speaking during that discussion session was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Copenhagen!   How did you come up with the idea about the developing countries? I have always been inspired by President Jacques Rogge, who has mentioned many times that he would like to see the Olympic Games being held by developing countries. I'd love to see it one day! The Games aren't just for a certain number of countries in the world, but there are 205 National Olympic Committees, yet only a number of them have hosted the Games. I think the choice for Rio de Janeiro as host of the 2016 Olympic Games was a great one! It's the first time the Olympic Games will be held in South America and I believe it's a huge step in the right direction for the IOC. I look forward to hopefully competing there as well!   What can you say about developing countries in archery? Archery is setting an example for other Olympic sports. We've seen such a huge growth in the number of countries participating in archery in every corner of the world—and the numbers still continue to grow! The great thing about archery is that you don't need expensive facilities to take part in the sport, which means there are minimal barriers to participation! Of course, bows at the Olympic level of competition can be expensive. But I think the most important spill-over effect of the Olympic Games is a growing participation in physical activity at the grassroots level. And at this level, archery equipment doesn’t cost much. When people start to fall in love with archery and decide they'd like to get more competitive, the equipment may cost a bit more.   What is your opinion on the Youth Olympic Games? I think it's such a great opportunity to get youth interested in competitive sport—it gives an attainable goal! I'm excited to hear about all the educational programs that the IOC has put in place for the athletes at the Youth Olympic Games because education is such an important aspect of these efforts. The youth will be given opportunities to experience Olympic Values and Olympism.   The 1988 Olympic champion Jay BARRS (USA) expressed his fear about youth participation in such big events: “If they have already won everything at the junior level, if they move to senior categories and don’t win straight away, they might lose their motivation.” As a young archer, what would you answer to that? I think it's important to give youth many opportunities to participate at elite levels of sport. And the Youth Olympic Games is providing another opportunity for them to participate. Although there is that uncertainty of whether youth, who are successful at a young age, will continue in their sport, I'd rather see the youth be given these opportunities than not. Also, the IOC is putting in place educational programs to teach about values other than winning and being "successful." I think these efforts will help youth stay in sport and stay motivated for senior level competition.   What do you think of the evolution of archery, with the creation of the World Cup and the adoption of new rules at the last FITA Congress? I think FITA has been making great efforts such as World Cup and new match play formats in order to gain more media coverage and audiences. Archery is again setting an example for other Olympic sports—showing that it can evolve as a sport. Not only World Cups and new match play formats, but also Archery TV and posting video coverage of international tournaments on YouTube!   Where does your great interest in Olympism come from? Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to participate in the Olympic Games. When snowboarding was introduced at the 1998 Winter Olympics, I thought, “YES! THERE'S MY WAY IN!” (I've been snowboarding since I was 7.) I've always been one of those kids glued to the TV screen during the Olympics, and dreaming of one day being like those athletes. Luckily, I found archery and hope to compete as an archer at the Olympic Games, instead of as a snowboarder. Which my mom thinks is a much better decision, because snowboarding tends to be more dangerous at the elite level.      How did you stard archery? Is it a family tradition? I'm the first in my family to get involved with archery. In 2004, I was visiting family and friends in South Korea while the Athens Olympics were taking place. Instead of sightseeing, I was stuck inside watching TV because the weather wasn't very good. I saw PARK Sung Hyun win the individual gold medal, as well as shoot a perfect 10 to clinch the team gold medal for South Korea! It wasn't so much her incredible display of athleticism, but her composure and confidence that really inspired me to be the kind of person she was. I stopped spending money during my vacation in Korea because I was planning to buy a bow as soon as I got home. I had never shot an arrow before that, and to be honest, the first time I shot wasn't as glamorous as I had imagined it would be—I hit my arm and my arrow went far from the middle. But no one becomes a good archer without failure first, right? I've been in love with archery ever since I saw PARK on that television screen. It's such a straightforward sport that requires hard work, dedication, and LOTS of patience, but I've just never thought of stopping—archery is really part of who I am as a person (right: in action at the 2009 World Cup Stage 3 in Antalya).   As a Korean born in Canada, did you benefit in any way from the Korean excellence in archery? I was given the opportunity to train in Korea for 6 months this past year! When I was at the World University Archery Championships in Chinese Taipei in 2008, I was shooting against CHANG Hye-Jin, the 1st seeded archer. After I lost, her coach said she saw talent in me and gave me her contact information. When I came back to Canada, we were in touch and she offered me the opportunity to come train with her university team! It was a very valuable experience and I learned so much about the sport: about form, training techniques, and discipline in the sport. But the most important thing I learned is that I need to make my form “my own”—understand every aspect of my form, what works for me and what doesn't, and above all make sure that the way I shoot is comfortable for me.   While in Korea, did you have the opportunity to meet PARK Sung Hyun? Yes, I did! While training in South Korea this past year, I followed the university team to one of the National tournaments, where I met Park. She was very kind! I even got to sleep at her house one night, where I went fishing with her husband, PARK Kyung-Mo, and she made me breakfast! She's such a kind and genuine person. She later sent me a package in the mail with a couple of her national team shirts, hats, and training clothes.   Could you share with us anything special that she told you? I told her that she was the reason why I started archery and she was very shocked and pleased to hear that. She gave me many words of encouragement and still inspires me to be the best I can be. She really emphasized how important it is to know yourself and how you shoot. She also mentioned how important it is to keep a journal while you're training. Since then, I write in my journal about any changes I've made to my form and what those changes feel like. I also write about my mental state during that practice session—whether I was calm and relaxed or had negative thoughts. I find it really helps when you’re struggling down the road and can look back to see what worked for you in each situation.   This brings us to your training. Could you describe a typical training week? During the summer, I train twice a day, six days a week. I focus mostly on shooting and mental training. But during the winter, I train four to five days a week, focusing a bit more on technical, physical, as well as mental training. I can’t train as much during the winter because of school but I do my best to make the most of my time.   What kind of mental training do you do? My mental training isn’t specific to archery but really encompasses the way I think on a daily basis. I work to stop negative thoughts and focus my mind on more productive, positive thinking. My coach has referred me to many useful books that have helped me along the way. These books are geared toward athletes. One book I found really useful was for golfers and since archery and golf have so many similarities, I found it easy to relate.   What do you like best about competing internationally? I like meeting all the archers from around the world! I haven't competed in a lot of international competitions yet and I'm still very far from the best archers in the world—I just love the entire atmosphere at these international competitions. FITA President, Dr. Erdener, invited me to be his guest at the Archery World Cup in Antalya and I am more than honoured to go. I also hope to be in Ogden and Shanghai.   What are your goals in archery? I hope that through archery, I can become a well-rounded individual. I hope to be the best I can be, whether that means at the top or the bottom of the rankings list. But I do hope to compete at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games.   What do you do outside of archery? I study Physical Education and Health at the University of Toronto. I'm involved in lots of recreational sports and enjoy playing the drums! After I graduate, I hope to get a degree in Physical Therapy. But after the Olympic Congress in Copenhagen, I realized that I'd really like to become more involved in the Olympic Movement and perhaps become an IOC member on the Athletes’ Commission.   What would you change about archery if you were on the Athletes’ Commission now? I'd just like to keep archery in the direction that it is moving! With all the positive changes we've seen to archery recently, I think archery is moving in the right direction!   Thank you Vanessa, and good luck for the future! Thanks so much! Just one last thing, I’d really like to thank President ERDENER Mr. Tom DIELEN, and everyone at FITA and World Archery for doing such a wonderful job! It was an honour to meet Dr. ERDENER and Mr. DIELEN in Copenhagen. They were really caring and down-to-earth people and showed me that World Archery is really in good hands.   Vanahé ANTILLE FITA Communication