Four years on: Singapore Youth Olympic medallists shooting at Wroclaw 2014
Wroclaw (POL) - Thursday, August 07, 2014
All three athletes that climbed the boys’ podium at the Singapore 2010 Games now represent their countries at World Cup events
Egyptian archer Ibrahim SABRY won the first ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore four years ago, Rick VAN DEN OEVER from the Netherlands took silver and bronze went to Russia’s Bolot TSYBZHITOV.
All three are shooting at Wroclaw 2014.
“I don’t see Ibrahim often, maybe once, or twice if there’s a worlds, a year,” says VAN DEN OEVER. “Bolot we’ve had some training camps with, though.”
|The trio on the Singapore 2010 podium: (L-R) VAN DEN OEVER, SABRY, TSYBZHITOV
“It’s special to see them both here. Every time we meet, I remember the Games.”
SABRY certainly remembers Singapore. His gold medal was a big boost to archery in Egypt. The government started to take far better care of its archery athletes, providing better equipment and training facilities.
“Winning the Youth Olympic title was a huge surprise,” admits the now-bearded Egyptian. “I trained hard and I just wanted to compete at my best. I expected to lose in the second round or quarterfinals, really.”
It’s difficult for Ibrahim to pick out a specific memory from Singapore. Everything was a bit overwhelming.
VAN DEN OEVER and TSYBZHITOV both remember the particular arrows they shot to put themselves on the podium.
Bolot needed a 10 with his last arrow to win bronze. He shot it.
Rick propelled himself into the gold final with a 28-point last set in the semifinals. It broke a 4-all set-point tie with Bolot, when the Russian shot three arrows just outside the 10. “It was a good group, they were on the right,” recalls Rick. “But I won’t forget that feeling.”
As well reminiscing about the tournament, Rick still remembers some of the odder rules in the athlete village: chewing gum was banned, and spitting incurred a huge fine.
VAN DEN OEVER, who was top seed at the event, said it was difficult to prepare because 2010 was the first edition of the Youth Olympics: “I didn’t know what to expect before Singapore. I kept telling myself it would be fun, but not the real Olympics. Then I arrived and there was this huge athlete village – that’s when I understood the size of the event.”
Across all the sports, the number of competitors is far greater than a single-sport event, as are the organisation, media and spectator activities. But the archery competition itself is actually quite small: only 32 athletes in two categories, boys and girls.
That doesn’t make the Youth Olympics an easier competition.
“Almost all matches are shot in the stadium,” explains Rick, unlike at a world cup stage or world championships when it’s just the finals held in an arena. “It’s great preparation for a full Olympic Games, as shooting your first and second round matches in front of a crowd is tough!”
TSYBZHITOV had only just started shooting for the Russian junior team when he was selected for Singapore 2010.
Soon after his bronze medal, he was on the Russian senior team, too.
“It was a huge step,” says Bolot. “Made possible by the Youth Olympics.”
All three Singapore medallists agree that it is harder to shoot on the senior stage, because the level of competition is so much higher and difficult to maintain – and all agree that the Youth Olympics helped them cope with the transition.
When Bolot is asked if the experience made him want to go to the full Olympics, TSYBHITOV grins and replies softly: “tak”. Yes.
Follow results from the last stage of the 2014 Archery World Cup in Wroclaw. See more information on the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.