Lord’s may be best known to South Africans as the ‘home of cricket’, but on Monday, SA archer Karen Hultzer will be looking to leave her own mark on the famous ground when she lines up for the 1/32 eliminations.
Rob Peters spoke to Karen before she left for London last week.
Rob Peters (RP): I believe you only started archery at 41? What got you into the sport?
Karen Hultzer (KH): I was looking for something to satisfy my competitive nature for some time, and after many years of driving past the archery range my curiosity eventually got the better of me and I decided to give it a try. I loved it!
RP: It’s been a rapid rise considering how short a time you have been involved – you must be a natural!
KH: Well, I'm not sure about a natural. Yes I believe I have the skills and aptitude to make me a good archer, but it takes a lot of hard work to put that to good use.
RP: How does qualification work as far as the Olympics is concerned?
KH: The criteria internationally are different to Sascoc’s qualifications. Internationally you firstly must have shot a particular score (FITA 144 arrows with a score of 1230 or 600 in an Olympic round which is 72 arrows) then you have to procure a slot at one of the various tournaments. The first would be at the World Champs in the year before the Olympics. Here, 24 individual slots are up for grabs. Then there are several continental qualifiers. Two slots were offered at the African Continentals in Morocco this year. After that there are a few qualifiers where archers can gain one of the remaining slots of the 64 that are made available. Once the slot is procured, you have to have the approval of your NOC (National Olympic Committee). Ours set standards a bit higher than the international ones so it was quite a battle to qualify.
RP: Apart from being out on the range, what kind of training do you need to put in?
KH: I try to get to the gym at least 4 times a week for aerobic exercise. I do mental training daily as well as quite a lot of technical work such as bow tuning and arrow re-fletching
RP: What are your expectations at the Olympics?
KH: I wish to shoot the best arrows I can and at the least, shoot my average, and enjoy standing on the Lords Cricket pitch in SA colours.
RP: There are a fair amount of stereotypes attached to archery (Robin Hood, William Tell and the apple), but the sport is far more than a simple bow and arrow isn’t it?
KH: Over and above the basics, one has a sight, a stabilizer system and dampeners to suppress the vibration. Then you also have to match the arrows and the pressure button to both your draw length and the weight of the bow.
So yes, it can be quite technical especially in tuning the bow to the arrows, but it still comes down to you and the bow.
RP: Having said that… could you shoot an apple of somebody’s head?
KH: I'm sure I can at close distance, but I would be very hesitant to take a chance
RP: The bows themselves look pretty high-tech. What is the cost of equipment?
KH: One gets a bow to suit ones strength and pocket. For an entry level bow and a few arrows you could get away with under R2000 with no frills, but one can hire bows from the clubs when you are starting the sport.
RP: How big is archery in SA?
KH: If one looks at all the disciplines in the sport it is growing, especially now that there has been a tightening up of the firearms licences and the hunters are moving over to bow hunting. This has certainly brought in more interest in compound target shooting. But unfortunately recurve archery, which is the only Olympic discipline in archery is struggling
RP: There is very little coverage of archery in SA – has it been difficult getting sponsors, media etc?
KH: Unfortunately that is very true. When I first qualified we sent most of the media a neat package about my achievements, but hardly any took it up. Obviously without media one struggles to get sponsors and thus struggles to get good coaching and experience and development is slow.
RP: What are your goals after London 2012?
KH: I would like to work towards going to the Rio Olympics with a full team in 2016. In the four years leading up to that, I would like to build up a career in coaching, as I think that sport is one of the ways to build our country, and I would like to be part of that.
- Karen will be competing today at 9.26am at Lord’s.