Australians are fighters, says seasoned vet Matt GRAY
Shanghai (CHN) - Thursday, April 24, 2014
Despite having a full-time job, a family and three Olympics under his belt – Atlanta, Sydney and Beijing – Matt GRAY’s back on the competition field. He’s got one goal in mind: Rio qualification.
“I physically love shooting arrows, meeting new people and getting to travel,” says GRAY. “I just love archery.” The Australian’s been in the sport for over 30 years.
GRAY shot at Atlanta 1996, went to his home Olympics at Sydney in 2000 then returned for the Bejing 2008 Games. He won an indoor world team title back in 1999 and is also a World Cup stage medallist.
“It’s very difficult to find the time to train like a professional, now that I am working full time and have three children. When I was younger, it was much easier.”
This has not prevented the 40-year-old from catching the younger generation of Australian recurve athletes, like teammates at Shanghai Ryan TYACK and Taylor WORTH – who both made the finals of the indoor worlds earlier this year, with TYACK taking gold.
GRAY, TYACK and WORTH want to qualify a full recurve men’s team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Australia only sent one athlete to London, Taylor – who made the last 16 before losing to the eventual silver medallist.
“In previous Olympics we’ve had a full men’s team. Rio is our main goal: the men’s team – and, if possible, even three women.”
Despite living over a thousand kilometres apart – Australia is a big country – the trio keep in contact online, and meet at training camps prior to important events. “We understand each other,” says GRAY. “What each person needs. And we work really well when we come together.”
The three men seeded third as a team this year at Shanghai, GRAY‘s first international since this event in 2013.
It will be the experienced Aussie’s only trip this season, because of the time constraints he has on travelling – but he will be practising a lot. Next year, we’ll see GRAY for the whole World Cup tour in preparation for the Copenhagen 2015 World Championships. (Which happens to be the main qualification tournament for Rio.)
GRAY beat Olympic silver medallist with the USA team at London 2012 Jake KAMINSKI in the first round at Shanghai: “Jake’s a World Cup, world champs and Olympic medal winner… in the back of your mind, you think it’s going to be tough.”
After a drawn five sets, GRAY shot a nine to clinch the tie-break shoot-off.
“The set system is good for Australia,” GRAY claims: “because we’re not the best archers.”
“But we fight. And fight until the end.”
See scores from the individual eliminations at the first 2014 Archery World Cup stage in Shanghai.