Sporting biography- General
Born - Amy Lee Oliver
Where - South Yorkshire
Career - 2012 Olympian and International Archer, 2006 to Present
A little about me... This is me at the age of 6 years, 10 months
I first picked up a bow when I was almost 7 years old, and my first archery lesson was with my mum and dad, who at the time where very keen and competitive archers themselves. Ten years later I joined the Dearne Valley Archery Club and archery became my hobby.
After a year of competitive archery around my local area in South Yorkshire, I was invited to the Yorkshire Junior Archery Squad, and from that stepping stone represented Yorkshire in a few inter-county championships and also managed to set a few county records. I would spend almost every weekend travelling to competitions with my Auntie, Michelle Kiddy who is also a keen archer, I guess you could say its in the family blood.
In 2006 I was 18 and achieving the level of scores required to qualify for the Great Britain Field Squad, and as a result was selected to shoot in the World Field Champs in Sweden to help gain some experience as this would be my first international competition. I finished in the top 16 which I was pleased with, and I remember watching the finals and talking to the team manager Ann Hartfield, and told her that's where I want to be next year, the finals of the European Championships, she believed in me and so did I.
A year later (2007) I won the UK Masters and was noticed by Peter Suk, the Olympic Coach at the time, and he invited me to shoot in my first international Target shoot (Olympic Archery) in Dover. This was the week before the European Field Championships in Croatia which I had also been selected to shoot. I decided to do both as I needed the experience and to be honest, why would anyone say no to shooting such a massive competition that I would normally read about in the Archery Magazines!
I shot a Personal Best at the World Cup with a 1264 and was over the moon, although I didn’t make it to the elimination rounds I was please with my overall performance and had to start thinking about the European Field Champs which was only a week away. I spoke to Peter and he organised for me to shoot at a field target (which is a black and gold target) and shot at that for the rest of the week. One thing I remember about the week in Dover is that I signed my first autograph, I remember thinking, why the hell would anyone want my autograph?
I flew to Croatia a couple of days before the World Cup finished to make sure I arrived in good time for the start of the European Champs and after shooting a personal best in the World Cup was feeling strong for this next challenge. The two day qualifying rounds were not the best I have shot and looking back this may have been the stress of travel and rust between competitions, however I did make it through to the elimination rounds so now it was time to draw on all my energy, relax and focus on each arrow.
It paid off, I shot well but still felt I hadn't done enough, Michelle and Tracey Anderson, a team mate and a very good friend of mine, both rushed to the elimination results display to check if I had made it to the finals. I had, and it was a fantastic feeling, not only were we in the finals for the team round, but I had made it to the individual finals a chance for the Gold Metal and the European Title.
The team finals were the day before the individuals and Jane Rees, Tracey and myself won a Silver medal so we were pleased and it was good preparation for the following day.
During the individual finals I decided to wear my silver medal to remind me I am good enough to be there and I can win. I made it through to the Gold medal match, and Tracey was my wing-man. The final match was against Jessica Tomasi from Italy, who had been the leading lady through the competition. It was a close match, all on the last arrow, as you would expect at this level, and I did it, I won the Gold Medal and became European Field Champion at the age of 19. I later found out the last GB woman to win the title was before I was born, more than 20 years earlier. After winning this, I knew I could go far, the taste of success is a strong boost and makes all the hardwork and long hours training worth something. From that point on I started to concentrate on the Target side of Archery, and since then have represented GB in both Field and Target Archery competition internationally.
Things progressed and I continued to train hard and increase my scores, the biggest next step for me was to qualify for the GB Target Team, but I knew it would not be easy, but things worth having never are.
In 2009, I was invited to see the GB head coach Peter Suk. I went with my dad to the Centre of Excellence, the heart of GB Archery, at Lillehsall National Sports Centre. I was very nervous to meet Peter as I thought this meeting would be the make or break.
He took me and my dad into is small and daunting office and drew a diagram of a gate, he told me ‘You are outside the gate and I am opening it for you, You could be inside if you work hard’. From then on I was fully dedicated to be through the ‘gate’. We then went to a large shed where other archers where training, including Michael Peart and a few others that I admired for their achievements and shooting ability. He then asked me to do some exercises, push ups and sit ups in front of everyone to see how strong I was, and as I found out over the next ten months or so, he always wanted more. He then looked at my shooting technique and said, "OK some work to do, but potential", and that was it, see you next week, I knew from that point it was up to me.
Even though I sometimes dreaded going to Lilleshall to meet Peter because he always seemed to find something not quite right, could be better, I was determined every time to make him say ‘well done’ or make him proud of what I had been working on. I made a lot of changes to my technique and as a result this caused a massive dip in my performance, but I knew my technique was not the same as the top archers so something had to change, and I trusted Peter so worked with him to get the results. The biggest change I made was to my front shoulder and it took over a year to perfect it.
In August 2009 I shot my first 1300 FITA with my last end (3 arrows) been 9-8-8 at 30meters ( I do make it hard for myself sometimes) and on the same weekend Peter announced that he would be leaving the GB Team. At this point, I was slightly worried and it felt like I was the only archer to be upset, even though he was a ‘tough to please’ coach, I had improved with his guidance, and as I had just given up my full time job to be a full time athlete, so what would happen in the future.
At the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010 we didn't have a coach so we were all shooting and helping each other. Lloyd Brown joined the team as our new GB Olympic Coach and in turn wanted to make some changes to the way we all shot, to be ‘Just like the Koreans’. I and some other members of the team have made changes and as a result have shot higher scores.
2010 was my first full competitive year as an International Archer. I never appreciated how hard it was with all the travelling, and people think it's a glamorous job!- but then again I wouldn’t change it for the world and I gained so much experience during the year.
The commonwealth games was the most amazing competition I have ever been part of. We managed to win a silver medal in the ladies team round, but I would have been happy just having the experience as my medal, it was a massive bonus to have brought home a real one.
The 2012 Olympics came very fast. The experience of the Olympics was amazing. It has given me the inspiration to carry on with my career and try and be a strong contender at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Updates coming soon.....
Competition Personal Bests
FITA - 1340 (2011 World Championships in Italy)
720 FITA - 651
Practice Personal Bests
FITA - 1347
720 FITA - 686