IPC Archery World Championships - Melissa Carter's Story

Melissa Carter.

As we recently reported, Melissa Carter, a Vision-Impaired archer and member of Kent's TADSAD Archery in Ramsgate, recently earned a place in the British team that took part in the IPC World Archery Championships in Korea earlier this month. She and her spotter, husband Anthony, flew out to Korea with Team GB on 30 September. Here is her account of the trip.

Ant and I flew off to Korea on 30th September with the rest of the GB Paralympic team going to the World Archery Championships. We arrived at the hotel late on the Monday night local time. It was a lovely hotel and we enjoyed a well needed sleep.

In all there were about 300 archers from 38 countries and in the visually impaired category there were six archers from 5 countries. Great Britain had sent myself and Steve Prowse and then there was a female archer from America and male archers from Belgium, France and Italy, all of whom shot together in the same category.

The first couple of days were for unofficial practice and the chance to see the archery field for the first time. It was a lovely field, surrounded by trees and when the line was quiet you could hear the sound of insects and birds all around. The field had basically been cut out of the side of the mountain so it had been made nice and flat and it was quite secluded so there was hardly any wind. The first day was a bit warm at about 27 degrees Celsius and at some points 80% humidity, but the following days were a bit more comfortable temperature-wise, like a hot summers day in England - even the humidity dropped to nearer 40-50%.

On Wednesday 3rd October we had official practice; the Visually Impaired archers had practice in the morning session, so it was an early 6am wake up so we could be on the bus to the field at 7:30am. Practice went well, a little tired still from the journey but shooting went well and at that point I was not too nervous, just enjoying the experience.

On the Friday 5th October the competition started with the two longest distances of the FITA for all the other archers, while for the VI archers it was the 60cm and 80cm faces. The Saturday was the same again, but at the shorter distances and for us it was the second 80cm face and then the 122cm. I had been quite nervous during these shoots and, especially the first day, I was disappointed with my score. I ended up at the end with a score of 582 and was in fifth place.

The first two places got a bye and the bottom four went into the quarter finals on the Sunday (7th). For my quarter finals head-to-head match I was up against the fourth placed Belgian archer. At this stage I was extremely nervous I am not quite sure how I managed to shoot with my legs and arms shaking. The team coach kept me in line and helped me to calm down throughout the match and I ended up winning.

In the semi final I then met my GB team mate Steve Prowse who had come first in the FITA round. He won that match and went on to the gold medal shoot off and I therefore went into the bronze medal match against the French archer next day.

The rest of the GB team came to support me and I definitely think that spurred me on. To get a cheer when you shoot well and a roar when you get an X was quite amazing and it was a big confidence boost to have such a good team around me. Ant was amazing - he kept it together and encouraged me through it all. I did not want to know the scores as the match went on but Ant knew I was in the lead. He kept calm, though, and just supported me through it. He was thrilled to be able to tell me at the end that I had won and I had got the bronze medal. I was amazed that I had achieved a medal position - I was so nervous going into the competition, as this was my first proper international competition.

When we had been training before the competition, the team manager said that, as it was my first event of this size, not to have any expectations but to just enjoy it; my only hope had been that I did not come last, so to come away with a bronze medal was brilliant.

The support of the rest of the GB team was brilliant; it was the first time I have shot as part of a team and even though we were in different categories, the team watched and supported every member and it was great to have a group around you. I could not have done so well, if I did not have the support and experience of my husband Anthony - he has been my spotter for the last couple of years, so he knows how I shoot and how to help me during the competition. He is also my support - he knows how to keep me calm and give me support during my shooting.

Being visually impaired, it is essential that the archer and spotter can work together as a team; the staff involved in the GB team saw how essential it is to have a designated spotter. My medal was definitely a team effort and I thank Ant for his part in it.

For those of you who know little or nothing about VI archery, we have

d a short introduction to the subject, together with links to organisations where you can find out more.