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Archery men targeting team podium

31 May 2016

ARCHERY: The trio of young men who have today been selected to represent Australia at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in archery, have shown over recent years, and a tough selection process, that Rio could be the Games where Australia wins its first Team medal.

Alec Potts (20) and Ryan Tyack (24) will make their Olympic debuts in Rio, alongside 2012 Olympian Taylor Worth (25) who impressed in London four years ago. They overcame a strong challenge from triple Olympian Matt Gray for the three spots.

Potts shot an Australian record overseas score when third in qualifying at the Shanghai World Cup this year, Tyack is the 2014 world indoor champion and Worth, who was ninth at the London Olympics, was also ninth at the 2015 World Championships.

They combined to finish eighth in the Team event at the 2015 World Championships to secure Australia three men’s spots for Rio and were only a few points, or literally millimetres, off the medal rounds. Potts in particular has developed a lot of experience since his first World Championships and the team is going from strength to strength.

The three Australians will contest the Team and Individual events at the famous Sambódromo venue, home of the Carnival in Rio, and they can’t wait to help each other achieve their dreams in Brazil. 

“Rio will be a completely different Olympic experience for me,” Worth said.

“In London I was the sole male competitor. Now with a full team it will change the whole experience. We are all shooting really well. If we are all on song on the right day then we are capable of potentially finishing on the podium.”

In London, Worth upset the world number one before losing a shoot-off and ending his Olympic experience at Lords Cricket Ground in ninth.

“For London I went in with all guns blazing without a real clue of what I was doing,” Worth recalls. “But looking back some mistakes cost me very dearly and I know I have learnt a lot from that experience.”

Worth moved from Perth to Brisbane at the start of 2014 to train with the new national coach from Taiwan, Ya Ping Shah, and to live with and be pushed by close friend Tyack.

“It’s great to be selected for my first Olympic Team and now we can concentrate on the Rio performance,” Tyack, who was the Australian flag bearer at the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival, said.

“I was asked to try out for Beijing when I was 17 and at the AIS and I ended up being the reserve. I missed the one spot for 2012 when Taylor was shooting well and I was sick, so I’m very happy to make this Team.

“It was always going to be a strong team with four really, really good guys all competing for those three spots, so we were bound to get a top team out of it in the end.”

Tyack knows what the Australians are capable of but knows all he can do is focus on producing his best performance at the Games.

“Everyone wants to win a medal or even a gold if possible at the Olympics and that’s what we’ll be striving to achieve. But the realistic view is if I do well by my own standards then I’ll be happy with my performance over there.” 

Tyack got into the sport when his mum, who is now his personal coach, wanted him to stop playing computer games and get off the couch.

“My mum wanted me to get outside more and meet people. Because of the computer games I played I wanted to do archery or fencing. And it turned out the archery club had an open day and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Potts is the youngest member of the Team and he remembers Tyack helping him at events when he was started back when he was 12 or 13. He made his international debut in 2015 and now they are going to the Olympics together.

After qualifying the three Olympic quota spots in late 2015 alongside his Rio teammates, Potts stepped up and secured his Olympic berth at the Shanghai World Cup event.

“I was really happy with Shanghai and a career best score (685) and Australian international best score to finish third in qualifying,” Potts said.

“We have all been shooting really well at certain times and I feel like we can do really well in Rio.

“The difference between winning sets and winning matches comes down to millimetres in archery and we have come a long with since the world championships and a definite podium potential.”

All three men contested the Rio Test Event so they are aware of the intricacies with the venue - where athletes will shoot on a platform - and they are aware of the light, sounds and climate of Rio.

“Even the Test event was so overwhelming so it was such a great experience to have,” Potts said.

“Everyone recognises that all senses are going to be alert over there with the crowds and the noise and the venue over there and it was great to take hundreds of photos and videos to help us visualise at training.”

In 2012 Worth got to experience what it is like to compete at the Olympics in a famous venue.

“Competing at Lords was an amazing experience, especially as I was a big cricket fan as a kid. Now for Rio we are fortunate to compete at the Sambódromo which is so important to the Brazilian people with so much history and culture from the Carnival.”

The archers will go into a training camp in Brisbane this weekend to prepare for the next World Cup in Turkey and then they will be back in Australia for a short break before have a training camp in Taiwan ahead of the Games to replicate these conditions.

Archery will be the second sport to get underway at the Games and before the Opening Ceremony. Women’s football play on the Wednesday August 3 and the important ranking round for archery takes place during the day on Friday August 5, just hours before the Opening Ceremony.

Simon Fairweather famously won Australia’s first archery medal with gold at Sydney 2000. Four years earlier in Atlanta Fairweather, Gray and Jackson Fear were fourth and so close to the podium in the Team event.

School boy Tim Cuddihy won bronze at Athens in 2004 and he combined with Fairweather and David Barnes for sixth in the team event. The men’s team were ninth in 2008 and failed to qualify in 2012.

These three athletes take the overall Team to 147, with an expected final Team of around 420 athletes. Complete biographies on all selected athletes here>>>

There has been an appeal against the non-nomination of an athlete for the one women’s quota spot. The nomination for this event will be made to the Australian Olympic Committee once the appeal process has concluded.

Andrew Reid

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