LONDON — South Korean archer Im Dong-hyun is near-sighted and doesn't wear corrective lenses. Yet he scored a 699 in the men's archery preliminary round, hitting a yellow circle the size of a dinner plate from 70 meters away.
Which is all well and good, but really can't hold a quiver to being an out-of-shape uncoordinated dummy who hit the target on multiple occasions from seven meters away.
At least in my mind.
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Part of archery's glory is that an athlete can have my dimensions and still become a champion -- as long as he or she has a slightly better level of fitness.
"Mentally is always the difference between winning and losing. But so is endurance," said Michael Peart, media liaison for Olympic archery, before patting his belly. "Yeah, I'm a bit overweight, but I can still run a half-marathon and I can shoot 300 arrows, six days a week. I have excellent, fine-tuned archery muscles. It's like playing a violin."
In a way, it is: Tucking something under your chin, respecting the string and requiring extreme focus.
Of course, a violin doesn't become a potentially deadly weapon when you play it. Not even a Stradivarius.
My previous archery experience: Taking the suction cups off of toy plastic arrows and attempting to fire them into my couch as a young child. Also, I've seen Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood" more than I'd like to admit.
Also, at summer camp, we used bows to fire arrows into paper targets placed on hay bales. The mechanics are the same when using a professional bow; but instead of trying to impress my bunkmate by hitting an oak tree somewhere off the course, I was tasked with actually firing at a target:
The strain on the arms is significant. As a righty, my left arm was used to aim and brace the bow. After a few shots, you feel some burning in your forearm as your muscles stretch on each shot while aiming.
Your right hand grips around the arrow, and your right arm pulls the strong back to fire it. What happens next is a delicate balance act between aiming at the target — using the sight on the bow — keeping your form with your legs spread and your left hip pointed to the target, all while keeping tension on the string, ready to fire.
What usually happens for beginners, i.e., to me: You spend too much time aiming, and then suddenly the back arm begins vibrating like you're using a Shake Weight. Now it doesn't matter where you aim: Your arrow's going to be flying like a rapidly descending water balloon.
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Eventually, you learn to aim faster and shoot quicker to compensate for the fatigue.
As the video shows, my first run had a bull's-eye allergy. But the second one was much improved — all three arrows in the yellow (you're going to have to trust me on this). From seven meters away!
So if Im Dong-hyun does it from 70 meters, that means he's 10-times better than I am?
"He's exponentially better than you are," said Peart.
(As reader Peter Hassett said: "It looks like Nitro is about to fire tennis balls at a contender from a mounted air gun." Gotta love a good "American Gladiators" reference.)
Beyond the competition, the real draw for archery at the London Games is the venue: Lord's.
Not the Lord's Cricket Ground, as it's listed throughout the media materials: Just Lord's.
I attended media day with two local cricket writers who alerted me (more than once) that we were standing on sacred ground. The first match it hosted was in 1814. It's a classic bit of London dichotomy: The "end zone" stands are full of men and women dressed to the hilt — it's a jacket-required area — while the rest of the stands are filled with raucous fans you might see at a football match. Or soccer, for those of us who know what football actually is.
To put it in American terms: If old Yankee Stadium and Augusta National had a baby, and it was raised by the Vatican, it would be Lord's.
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So, naturally, there I was in the main building in shorts, a T-shirt and hat-hair (I doffed my chapeau before entering), one Big Gulp and a hot dog away from the epitome of ugly Americanism.
Thing was, my cricket friends were in the same garb.
"Can you believe we go in 'ere dressed like this? In this room? With these paintings?" one exclaimed.
"Can you believe I can now say I've competed at Lord's?" said the other.
More Olympic coverage on the Yahoo! Sports network:
• Chinese shooter earns first gold medal of London Games
• Age of Japanese equestrian will probably shock you
• Mysteries of the Opening Ceremony solved
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