Greece- European GP Blog
I have decided to write a blog on my thoughts and results at the first outdoor International. I will be writing little snippets from each day and then send the blog to my website once I get back home. This is a first for me so I am going to see how it goes and if people are interested then I will try and do it for each trip I attend. I feel like I have prepared really well for the competition, warm and waterproof clothes, food, pillow (I take my pillow everywhere I go, it’s just something that is mine and makes you feel more comfortable when your millions of miles away from home. It also helps to not get a stiff neck while I am away) I have my Stone of Life in place so I can stay grounded and keep perspective (If you’re wondering what that is then you need to read ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Professor Steve Peters). My bow is set up and ready to go, arrows are tuned. All I need to do now is do what I do, everyday- stay in the process of the shot and try my best- after all, that’s all I can do!
Flight with BA from Heathrow to Athens was around 3 hours and 30minutes- just about the same amount of time it took me to drive from my house to Heathrow airport. It was an early morning! I was sat in an aisle seat (my preference) with a middle seat empty so I was able to spread out a little. Passport control and getting our luggage was quick and simple. We followed a lady to a federation bus and journeyed our way to the hotel. It took around 45 minutes. Our room was small but had everything we needed. Once everyone had thrown their stuff into their rooms we went to have dinner. It was a classic buffet style place. The food was pretty good, better than I expected. Once we had eaten, it was a quick team meeting and then bed time.
Today was unofficial practice. I woke up at 6:45 for 7:15 breakfast and 8 o’clock bus. The venue for today was a field next to the competition field. It was slightly up hill and in their attempt to flatten the field. They had put the targets into trenches. The weather was cold and then warmed up a little as the morning progressed. As a team we did our warm up together and then started shooting blank boss. I always find that shooting blank boss helps with getting warmed up and helps me to purely focus on my technique. In the morning session I shot 136 arrows in total. Me, Naomi, Larry and Patrick all shot on a target together at 70m. I had a lot of broken nocks and damaged fletchings at the end of practice with us all grouping in the middle. Once we had finished for the morning, we got back on a bus to take us to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, some of the team went back and shot again. I stayed in the hotel and repaired my fletchings. I also did a little shoulder pre-hab and a core circuit to keep me ticking over. There aren’t any gym facilities here so I had to do all this in the room. 18:30 and time for dinner. We had another team meeting about who is going to be on the men’s team to get the quota places for the European Games (They had to choose and submit the team before the qualification). After the meeting we all went to bed.
Today was official practice. Naomi and I were allowed to have a lay in because we weren’t shooting till the afternoon so we chilled out in the room for the morning. We had lunch and then went for the bus to take us to the competition field. The field was Astroturf and a lot better than the practice field from yesterday. The weather was a lot warmer then yesterday too but windier. When I’m shooting the official practice, I always look for ‘things’ I can use when it is windy e.g. Trees, wind sock, a flag that is higher up in the sky that might not actually be on the field of play. I also, (if there is grass to do it) through some in the air at the target end and the shooting end to see which way it falls. Today there were no real indications for the wind apart from the little flags that are on top of the target! It was quite windy and I was aiming off in the black for some shots, which was enough for the arrows to go into the middle. Once practice was finished we travelled back to the hotel on the bus provided and got ready for the opening ceremony. We all had to meet at 6:25 to walk to the little show room; it was like a little stadium with comfortable seats and a stage. The opening ceremony consisted of a lot of speeches opening the competition and wishing everyone good luck. This followed with all the flag bearers to come out one by one (Just like the Olympics) and stand on the stage. Our flag bearer was Alex Smith, he was chosen because he is the newest to the team and on his first trip. I remember having to do it but felt very proud holding the flag- it was my first field trip in Sweden. Once all the countries had come out and dispersed back to their seats. We had a rendition from school children on ‘we are the world’ and also the Greece National Anthem. We all stood up for the National Anthem and the World Archery Europe Anthem. The Opening Ceremony had finally finished and we were able to go and have food. You can imagine the queue to get to the food. I decided to go for salad and a lot of it as there was no queue for that and actually it was really nice. I didn’t have any of the hot food because I couldn’t be bothered to wait in the queue. I made sure though that before bed I had a pint of milk to get my protein intake.
Today was qualification. The men had shot in the morning and Naomi and I chilled out for the morning while watching the men’s scores on the computer. After we had some lunch we got to the field and set up our bows. I felt ready for the day, my practice had been going really well, I had done my mental warm up and looked over my Stone of Life. At the beginning of the 720 I felt quite nervous- maybe because the chimp in me where expecting a lot because of the way I had been practicing. After the first couple of ends, that died down and I was able to do my process properly and get into a rhythm. I shot a 101, 107,110 for the first half. The second half, I wasn’t nervous at all and just focussing on my shots, one by one. The shots felt ok- not as good as in practice but ended up with a 105,104,104. I was disappointed with the second round score because I know I can do better. I know what I need to work on for the future so in the end I decided to look at the positives of that.
Today was elimination day. It was a very early start. My alarm was set for 5:45 (that’s 3:45 at home!) and practice started at 7. Wow, it was hard trying to wake up. Lloyd had brought me some breakfast from the restaurant so I could eat it when I was actually hungry. I felt really positive about today. I was thinking to myself, ‘today is another day’ Just stick to the Mental Programme and try my best, that’s all I can do. In my first match I was shooting against seed 85. I scored 27,26,27,26 winning 6-2. I was really pleased with the way I shot and the process. The weather was quite nice so I was aiming in the middle. The second match was against seed 37. I scored 28,19,26,25,26. I lost 6-4 but really happy the way that I shot. The 19 I had a 10 and a 9 and my last arrow of the set, I forgot to check my fingers on the string so it ended coming off the rest- but getting a positive from it, it was a well executed miss J I really fought all the way in the second match, I was positive and didn’t let doubt enter my head. Even after the miss, I made sure I checked my fingers but didn’t let it affect my shooting for the next sets. So now I am out of the competition but I learnt a lot from it.
Today was the team quota day. The team of Larry, Ashe and Patrick were fighting to get places for the European Games. Their first match was against Denmark. Our team won on a shoot off, it was a very close match. Their second match whom they needed to win was against Poland. It was all neck and neck and was again decided on a shoot off. The Poland team shot a 10, 9, 9 and GB scored 9,9,7 This meant that the Men’s team hadn’t won their places. Next week the men will only be shooting for one spot to go to the European Games (which was won at the European Champs last year by Ashe). In the afternoon it was mixed team day but everyone had time to do a little practice on the very windy practice field. The rain was also on and off. Our team was Larry and Naomi, they were ranked in 6th and their first match was Azerbaijan. They shot very well. They then went onto defeat Georgia which took them to the Gold medal match. In the Final they shot against Ukraine. Naomi and Larry both shot amazing but Ukraine just piped them. They ended up with a silver medal- which I think they were very pleased with. In the evening we had dinner and chilled out in the hotel. Some of the archers played card games and table tennis.
Today we were very lucky to practice in the morning. We shot on the competition field. The weather was brilliant really, there was no wind at all but there was a massive downpour of rain. We sat it out for a while till it stopped bouncing it down. Practice was brilliant, I worked on my Mental Programme 100% and I was really pleased with the grouping (even in the drizzle). I spoke to Songi while walking up and down to the target about what I had learnt in the competition. I think for it to be a successful trip, you need to have learnt something. I learnt that what I m doing mentally is going uphill slightly with every day/comp/training session. I know what I need to work on that is going to help me in the future. In the afternoon we were invited to go to a winery. The guy who owns the winery is actually from Scotland and was able to show us around. He has been living in Greece for 20 years or more and it was amazing how he had forgotten some English words so it was hard for him to describe some of the processors in how to make wine. He really did try his best and I learnt so much about how to make the best quality wine and how to store wines in a cellar ( I do not have a wine cellar but if I did, my wines won’t end up being corked!) Apparently the best way is to store your wines at a 27 degrees angle with the cork facing upwards. This is so the wine is touching the cork half and half. The last thing you want to do is store your wine laying down or standing up. Lying your wine down will stop the cork from giving the wine the oxygen it needs. The cork will get really wet and over time the cork will disintegrate and that’s how you get corked wine. Storing the wine standing up dries out the cork and ends up being all crumbly. The cork is to help the wine oxygenate. Now you know the best way to store your wine. Very interesting isn’t it? J When we got back to the hotel after a couple of hours in the winery it was time to get ready for dinner. It was also banquet night which meant a lot of loud music and some alcohol. We had dinner and went to the banquet but as a team we sat and played cards- yes we are very boring. After getting annoyed with the music, I went to my room to pack and chill out but the music was so loud, it was like sitting in the room with the music on. I think I finally got to sleep about 12:30am but the music didn’t actually stop till 3am.
It was time for home! In the morning we woke up at 8:00am and went for breakfast. Me Naomi and Songi had a look on the beach. It was cold and very dull but we managed a selfie together. I did a pre hab and my bow training before doing my last bits of packing. At 11:00 it was time to get on the bus for the airport. Quick drive and we checked into British Airways for our flight back to London Heathrow. We were delayed a little bit while we were actually sat on the plane. The pilot said it was because of strong winds at Heathrow. Better to be safe than sorry. When we actually got to London air space, I thing we must have circled above the airport for about half an hour. We were obviously in a queue to land but it was very windy and the plane was bouncing up and down. I felt a little sick but tried to take my mind off it by playing a game on my iPad. We finally landed an hour delayed and was able to get through passport control and get our bags. It was a 3 hour journey driving home for me and walked through the door at home at around 9:30pm. I was so happy to be home (I am definitely a home bird, I love my home comforts) James was prepared with a meal for us and we talked about the trip.
I do admit that I am a very lucky person being able to travel the world and do what I love. The training is really hard and it is frustrating when you’re working so hard and not getting brilliant results at World and European Level. I know though that if I work my hardest in training physically and mentally then I cannot ask for anything else in competition. I reckon it is a matter of time to get stronger and the best I can be. I did learn a lot on this trip and also it reinforced some of the things I learnt before in other trips. I feel as a whole team we are on the right track.
Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think of the blog. Write on my guest book on my website or send me a message on my Facebook athlete page or Twitter. Also, if you want me to do a blog about anything relating to archery, just let me know the subject and I will try and write my views on it.