BY ROMULUS HUTA
OUR archery representatives have competed well at the recent Oceania Championship held in New Caledonia, a report by the Solomon Islands Archery Federation (SIAF) states.
The Oceania Championship was held in Noumea, New Caledonia from July 9 to 12. A total of six archers represented the country. They were Andrew Lano, Piper Soper, Kelly Baedonga, Janet Siru, Nancy Pize and Doris Laula.
The six archers were selected from the national archery championship sponsored by C & I Distributors held earlier June.
The Oceania Archery Championship brought together archers from 12 Oceania countries namely Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Following the completion of the championship, the Oceania Archery Congress was convened for top officials as well as a Level Two Olympic Solidarity Coaching Course from July 16 to 24 which were conducted by Pascal Colmaire of World Archery.
Solomon Islands was represented in the coaching course by Lano and Laula while Archery Federation President Nihal Seneviratne represents the country in the Oceania Congress.
Upon their return, President Seneviratne said: “Competing in the Games was essential to give SI archers further experience of the pressure and the procedures of international competition, to observe and compare us with other archers and equipment and to build relationships with archers from neighbouring countries.
“There were 92 competitors in the Oceania Archery Games, the largest number of competitors in these games ever.
“Competitors came from Australia and New Zealand (by far the largest teams), Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and of course the Solomon Islands.
“Archers from New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga were very competitive against the larger team which goes to show that Solomon Islands can be competitive under the right circumstances.”
Seneviratne added that our archers have competed at distances they have not shot before which were challenging and intimidating for some.
“However, several archers performed very well (at around the middle of the field in terms of score) and learnt a lot about choosing equipment and managing themselves in a competition (archery is an individual sport and competitors can’t ‘hide’ in a team).
“All team members benefited from the experience of competition pressure, equipment selection and maintenance, being constantly aware of competition progress so as to not delay the competition, and to make sure every arrow scores as high as possible!
“The number of under-20 competitors from other countries was very large (the Solomon Islands team were all seniors). We need to invite more interested younger people to participate in archery,” he said.
Knowing that they cannot compete well with the archers from other countries, the national representatives then played down strong focus on competition in training, but rather on developing technique,” according to Seneviratne.
“In the future, competitions at least every month will allow archers to gauge their progress and also to rank archers for selection in future competitions. Competition was intimidating for some archers, especially during match shooting when archers were matched with some of the best archers from Australia and New Zealand.
“The collegiality between archers and country teams was excellent and Solomon Island team members made good connections with other country members.
In-kind support was offered from Australian and New Zealand members and there were discussions on creating sister-clubs, so members can compete in reciprocal events.
“It takes time to become competitive in archery and this was apparent during these games. It is as much a mental sport as physical sport and there were times when the mental preparation was not enough; something to develop in the future.
“Solomon Islands archers competed at distances which they had not shot before which was challenging and intimidating for some.”