Anderson: “I fought back and that’s what counts”
Shaun Anderson went into the compound men’s open ranking round confident, looking to seed within the top 10.
With Turkey’s Bulent Korkmaz ranking first on 687 points, followed closely by the USA’s Kevin Polish and Iran’s Hadi Nori both on 685, Anderson never imagined that he’d be proud of himself for finishing 28th, with 627, 60 points behind the top finisher.
All the athletes faced a long round with high winds and cool weather as the sun set.
Anderson encountered calamity early in the session. During the sixth end, something felt off. Anderson wasn’t quite sure what it was until an arrow completely missed the target and he realised something was wrong with his release.
He is very proud of the custom release that he designed with a friend back home in South Africa, which sits on a brace on his left shoulder and is triggered by a clothes peg sitting in his mouth.
“We went to the back and tried to fix it and I was so worried. I just felt terrible, I put in all the work and I wanted to be in the top 10. I started to think about my family and friends and everyone who is supporting me. It’s tough,” Anderson said, choked up.
Eventually, Anderson left the shooting area and sat down.
“Once I was away from everything and everyone, I immediately figured it out,” Anderson said. When he was getting his release set he had accidentally moved something with the safety mechanism.
“The arrow was fine, the bow was fine, I was fine,” Anderson said. “The problem is with the way we shoot, we rely on a lot of mechanical things and when it goes wrong it can be critical. But you figure it out and you pick yourself back up. And I’m proud that I picked myself up today.”
He was able to fix it within the allotted time and make up the arrows at the halfway point. He was the only person shooting and all eyes were on him.
“It was nerve-wracking. I came back from having it fixed. I knew everybody I was watching me and I didn’t have the confidence in my equipment,” Anderson said.
He clawed his way to the half, then joined the line to start the second – and decided to start afresh. Slowly, he climbed up the rankings, from last to 28th.
Not the finish he wanted, but a finish he could be proud of.
“It was a tough ride to get here,” Anderson said. “It’s been a lot of very trying things. This week has been going so well and then this happens. But I fought back and that’s what counts. Maybe the universe decided to keep me calm and not get overconfident.”
The para archery competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games runs 10-17 September in the Sambodromo.