IOC President on Youth Olympic archery competition

Nanjing, August 25, 2014: Thomas BACH visited the Nanjing 2014 girls’ archery finals and watched Chinese athlete LI Jiaman win gold in a one-arrow tiebreaker.

“It was a fantastic competition,” said IOC President and Olympic Champion Thomas BACH, who was invited to witness the event by IOC Executive Board Member and World Archery President Prof Dr Ugur ERDENER. “If you have a shoot-off in the final, you can’t get any better.”

China’s LI Jiaman staged a comeback in the latter sets of a gold medal match against Melanie GAUBIL from France at the end of girls’ finals day at the Nanjing archery venue. She tied the match at five set points each, forcing a one-arrow shoot-off.

GAUBIL shot first, and scored nine. LI’s arrow landed in the 10.

They, like many of the archery athletes competing in these Youth Olympics, said experiencing the Fangshan Archery Field arena has given them even more drive to compete at the Olympic Games.

“This is what the Youth Olympics are also about,” said President BACH. “Getting these athletes closer to the Olympic Movement, to give them the opportunity for high-level competition but also, at the same time, to show to them that the Olympic idea is going behind competition.”

Archery’s contribution to that in the sport schedule is the mixed nation mixed team competition, which finished yesterday. Athletes from different NOCs are paired after the ranking round to shoot in a two-person team elimination competition.

President BACH said the format was a good model for these Games, “to show that the Youth Olympic Games are also about making friends.”

It is something that many young athletes at the archery competition have echoed. The mixed team event makes them communicate – sometimes across language barriers – with athletes from nations they often do not interact with.

“I think your athletes enjoy it as much as all the other athletes,” said President BACH, referring to the programme built for the youth athletes around the sport schedule.

Judging by the enthusiasm, attitude and performance of the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympian archers throughout this week, the IOC President may well be right. —- WA

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