The nerves of appearing in a maiden Olympics are immense but if there is one sport where you cannot let them get to you, it is archery, writes Paul Eddison in Tokyo.
So after 24-year-old Bryony Pitman’s slow start at Tokyo 2020, it is a mark of her nerve that she has been able to turn things around.
Just 38th in the ranking of the individual and then knocked out in the first round of the team, Pitman looked to be struggling on the big stage.
However, she turned things around in style on Tuesday, coming from behind to beat Chinese Taipei’s Ya-Ting Tan in the 1/32 eliminations before a convincing win over former Olympic silver-medallist Aida Roman of Mexico.
A clash with Elena Osipova is next in the last 16, and Pitman was understandably thrilled at turning her Games around.
She said:“It’s an absolutely incredible feeling. I didn’t rank anywhere near where I would have liked to, so I was a bit disappointed with that.
“After the team round, I felt like I’d let myself and the team down, I wasn’t performing so I took the lessons that I could.
“The main aim was to come out here and to shoot with a smile on my face and to enjoy the experience for what it was.
“Clearly that’s what worked best!"
The smile was there for all to see as she got the better of Roman, and it was some advice from father and coach Gary Kinghorn, who also represented GB, that made all the difference.
“It is a mental sport, you have to be able to control your shots when you’re dealing with so much adrenaline, you’re shaking and there are such fine margins between shooting a ten and a six," said Pitman, who is able to train full-time and benefit from world class facilities, technology, coaching and support teams thanks to National Lottery funding – which has never been more important in getting her to the start line after a turbulent year.
“My dad is my coach and he’s always said to me, ‘if you’re not enjoying it then why are you there?’ You want to be there so have fun. That helps me relax a lot more.
“But even on a stage like this, you can be enjoying it as much as you like but you’ve still got to deal with that adrenaline.
“It’s a case of getting your breathing and focus right and not paying too much attention to what your opponent is doing.”
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