Setting sights on Olympic target

Stephanie Pinnell (19) from Fareham prepares to fire an arrow. Picture: Malcolm Wells (14535-9889) PPP-140223-222515003

Stephanie Pinnell (19) from Fareham prepares to fire an arrow. Picture: Malcolm Wells (14535-9889) PPP-140223-222515003

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The aim is to deliver the next generation of top archers on to the Olympic stage.

Now the path has been laid down to achieve this ambition, with sights firmly fixed on Rio 2016 and beyond.

The top prospects from Hampshire and Sussex took part in the launch of the new Junior Talent Pathway at South Downs College.

It was a hugely-successful opening for the initiative, set up in line with the strategy goals from the sport’s governing body – Archery GB.

The aim is to capitalise on the popularity of the sport that has grown and grown since the London Olympics in 2012.

Colin Stopher, from Petersfield, is the senior coach for the pathway in Hampshire and Sussex.

He believes the crucial structure is now in place to give top talents a bright future in the sport.

Stopher said: ‘This is the link to the national scheme run by the governing body.

‘We are optimistic we can get juniors to progress through.

‘Archery GB set up three regional academies – that would be the progression for the archers.

‘From there, the next step is to become part of the national junior team.

‘The ultimate aim is for some of them to end up in the Olympics – possibly as early as Rio, certainly the Olympics after that.’

Archers aged 12-17, from Hampshire and Sussex, have been selected to take part in the pathway.

South Downs College has provided great support and Stopher believes the first session last month proved a big success.

He said: ‘I hope it will grow. We had 22 archers at the first session and they were very, very enthusiastic.’

Talisman Bowmen chairman Martyn Paine is among the coaches passing on expertise.

His club shoot at Brookfield Community School, in Locks Heath, and during the outdoor season at Hunts Pond Recreation Ground, in Fareham.

The club are running courses for beginners. See the website talismanbowmen.com

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