By Mark Etheridge
Cape Town landscaper and archer, Karen Hultzer will be the first South African in individual action at the 2012 Olympic Games in London on Friday.
That after the Banyana Banyana women’s football team got the ball rolling in the team events on Wednesday night when they went down 4-1 to Sweden, despite Portia Modise’s wonder goal.
Hultzer, 46, takes part in the women’s recurve ranking around, which will decide her first round opponent. She put down her bow as Road to London 2012 fired off some questions for her.
1 How does it feel to be finally standing at Lord’s Cricket Ground shooting arrows ahead of the Games?
It is fantastic. I was at a┬áseminar on coaching at Lord’s at the end of 2011 and at that stage had been given the red light, so it was torture sitting in the conference room looking over the greens knowing that arrows would be shot there in seven months and I was not going to be part of that. Well that has changed and here I am. It is quite extraordinary.
2 How have you found the whole Olympic experience so far … the village, the vibe… what’s impressed you the most? And how have you found it inter-acting with all the other team members?
The village is fantastic and starting to buzz. Maybe a bit too much at night as I’m up at 5.30am, but one can feel the tension as well as the excitement building. I have found the volunteers most impressive. They are unbelievably friendly and will go out of their way to help you. The other team members are mostly training at their own venues, so I haven’t interacted much. But it is great being part a group of talented sports men and women who are dedicated to excellence.
3 What are the archery facilities like?
At the moment we are on the Nursery grounds. Only the eliminations will be shot in the main stadium. Everything is well planned and set out. Volunteers are more than willing.The physios are fantastic. The groundsman has worked very hard to produce a fabulous lawn,but is fiercely guarding a patch of new lawn that he has been nurturing. Most of the archers are respecting that and making a detour around it to get their arrows. I believe the range in Ulsan, Korea that I shot on at World Champs in 2009 is probably the only range that could top this, but as far as prestige, nothing touches it.
4 How will Friday work, what score will you need and what are your hopes and expectations. Will it take long?
Friday morning the 64 men will shoot their round, and then the 64 women will shoot in the afternoon.There will be three archers per buttress, and all will shoot 72 arrows at 70m shooting six arrows at a time, normally with a shot break halfway. The target is divided into 10 rings the value of which decreases by 1 point as you get┬á further away from the centre. 10 being the top score for the centre ring, so a full score would be 720 points. The women’s record is 682 and the mens’ is 696. It will probably take three hours for each session (men and women) The scores are then listed and decide the pairing for the eliminations ÔÇô the top ranking shooting against the lower rankings
5 How have the nerves been since arriving .. and what have you been doing to calm them .. anything different?
Of course my nerves are playing up at the moment, but one really has to try and keep to a business as usual attitude. Of course the catch is I know jolly well that it is not really that at all.
6 Just remind us of the score you shot in Morocco to qualify and and also your highest. You’ve improved your best since Morocco haven’t you?
Actually my score in Morocco was terrible, in fact so bad I have completely forgotten it, but I know it was well below 613, which was my personal best at the time. but I won my qualification┬áin the elimination rounds by coming third to two Egyptians and thus gaining a slot. For the IOC I had to have shot over 1230 in a144-arrow FITA round between July 2011 and June 2012. This I did at World Champs last year. For SASCOC to ratify my slot I had to have shot over 1260 at a world ranking event, and this I did last year in Turkey at the World Cup.┬á Last month I shot a PB of 1288 (FITA round) and a 638┬áOlympic round which was an SA record.