With only one day to go it seems that somehow Delhi has pulled the Commonwealth Games off… which considering the state of the place when I was out there is quite amazing. It has also been quite cool to be able to watch the one sport that I’m really into (archery) though it did require getting up at 4.15am to watch the first matches of the day.
It was quite unusual being able to watch it live. Most of the time you can only watch the big events on youtube a week or so after they’ve actually taken place and so most of the time you already know who won and how the shoot has panned out. However, when watching it live, when it’s people you know, it can be quite nerve racking. Especially if you can see what sort of form those you are supporting are in and you know the reputation of their competitors. It was also quite funny listening to the guys on telly refering to the archers by their surnames, such as Hunt, White and Howells, when I know them as Nicky, Chris and Jan!!
Thursday (the start of the television coverage) had a very good start for the English* archers with them winning both the gents and the ladies team compound event. The ladies went up against the current world champions (Canada) who earlier had only just knocked out the Welsh ladies by a single point. And the combined power of Nicky, Dani and Nichola (or Hunt, Brown and Simpson as they were called) pulled through to win. In the gents final against India we got a indication of how the slightly partisian crowd were going to behave to the opponents of Indian archers. Thankfully the English gents were able to shoot through the noise and go on to win.
Alas the same couldn’t be said for the English lady recurve team who were leading in the final against the Indian team until the crowd disturbed Amy (or Oliver if you wish) enough for her to put a 6 in with her final arrow in the final set which left a bit too much for Alison (Williamson) to do with the final arrow. But a silver is still an exceptional result.
Watching the first three individual quarter finals (lady compounds) all the Brits (Welsh, Scots, English) all lost, though in some case it was very, very close. However the fourth match contained the British and World #1 archer Nicky Hunt. And did she show some form! In the final, against the current World Champion, the Canadian Doris Mary Jones, she dropped only 4 points over 15 arrows to take the gold medal.
The gents draw also had a strong contingent of Brits with the first match being Wales vs. England, with the best Welsh archer (and seeded #4 from qualifying) Tapani Kalmaru going up against 11 years-in-a-row British #1 Chris White. Unfortunally for Tap in this match Chris proved to be too strong.
Now Chris’ semi-final match is a prime example why it’s so hard watching someone you know shooting live in such a big event. Firstly a quick explanation. Archery matches are now shot in sets of three arrows, if you win the set you get 2 points, a draw give you 1, to win the match you need 6 points. After the first two sets Chris managed to end up 4-0 down… this is not a good position to be in in a first to 6 points match. Somehow though he came back and won the match 6-4 so set a final against fellow English archer Duncan.
Both of these archers are on very good form and as I said at the time, ‘my money is on Chris, but if Duncan can get a lead I can’t see him loosing it.’ And that’s exactly how it went. Duncan got an early lead and held it till the end of the match.
Alas we weren’t so fortunate in the recurve matches, though Alison did managed to get into the final and came away with her second silver medal of the competition.
So all in all, a very good haul from the British (well, English if you insist) archers. Four golds and three silvers. Such a shame that it won’t be appearing in the 2014 Glasgow Games. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 28 years for archery to make another Commonwealth appearance… I’m personally hope 2018 and on the Gold Coast of Australia… cause I certainly intend to make the team!!
* – for those not in the know, simply due to it’s larger population size England tends to have a greater number of world class archers compared to the other Home Nations. For example, all of the English archers have represented Great Britain. Indeed there are Olympic medalists, paralympic champions, world, european and national champions. In retrospect Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey and the Isle of Man combinded don’t have the same number of GB archers.