Ralls fights back to claim international glory

Luke Ralls, centre, with team-mates James Howse, left, and Adam Carpenter
Luke Ralls, centre, with team-mates James Howse, left, and Adam Carpenter
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It’s a feat made even more impressive considering two years ago he faced the bleak prospect of being forced to give up the sport.

I didn’t expect to do so well, it was a big surprise, especially when a couple of years ago there was a big chance I would not shoot again

Luke Ralls

The 17-year-old capped his second-ever Great Britain appearance by scooping team silver in last week’s championships in America.

Along with James Howse and Adam Carpenter, they defeated top seeds Turkey and Australia, before losing out to the home team in the final.

Ralls also finished fifth in the individual event, his highest-ever placing at that level.

Yet the talented youngster from Elson Road previously faced quitting archery after suffering from costochondritis.

The illness involves the cartilage which joins the rib and breastbone becoming inflamed, affecting breathing and causing pain.

Ralls had to take a year off archery to recover, altering the way he breathed to cope with the condition.

Now the RN South Coast Archers member is a silver medallist at the World Youth Championships.

He said: ‘My previous international tournament took place in Austria last month and didn’t go too brilliantly as it was my debut and nerves got to me.

‘Thankfully I picked up. For this one I wanted to go and have fun – and ended up winning a silver medal!

‘Then I finished fifth in the individuals, with James Howse beating me in a shoot-off to get into the semi-finals.

‘I didn’t expect to do so well, it was a big surprise, especially when a couple of years ago there was a big chance I would not shoot again.

‘I was suffering from costochondritis, which means the cartilage gets solid around the ribs and your rib cage cannot expand to your full amount.

‘Basically you cannot breathe to your full capacity and with the lungs rubbing against the ribs it also caused agonising pain.

‘It took a year to recover, I had to adjust the way I breathed to short, shallow breaths and also had a big amount of time off at school as I couldn’t function with everyday life.

‘I couldn’t even sit down to take my GCSEs at Brune Park Community School, so instead I was given a separate hall and allowed to get up and walk to ease the pain if required.

‘In the end it got better, I am back to the way I was before, and it is great to be out there still competing in archery and winning things.

‘But I was determined not to quit the sport that I love.’

Ralls, who took up the sport nine years ago, is currently ranked first in the UK for the under-18s.

In addition, he is National Indoor Junior Boy Compound Champion.

In total, three medals were won by Great Britain archers at the World Youth Championships in South Dakota, with two bronze also claimed.

The 23-strong GB team competed against around 600 athletes from 60 countries across the world.