Rio Paralympics archer, Shaun Anderson, is brimming with confidence after having shot a score of 607 points in competition at Marks Park in Johannesburg at the weekend.
He has just reason to be proud. It’s only his third competition since last year October’s boating accident which led to him losing the use of his legs. In his first competition, he scored 400 and in the second his score was 586. It means he has improved by more than 200 points in the two months he has been back in training.
Being Anderson, he wasted no time in setting himself a new goal and that’s to shoot a score of between 620 and 630 at the South African Championships on 2 April.
‘I don’t ever want to get to a situation where I am resting on my laurels. My goal is to be at my best at next year’s World Championships so that I can qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. That is why I’ll keep on shifting the goalposts. My big goal is to be able to consistently shoot scores of 610 to 620 by the end of the year.
‘What was exciting about the past weekend’s competition was my consistency over the two rounds. I shot scores of 305 and 302. Another good thing was that I was able to recover immediately from having shot a lousy arrow. In most instances, my next shot was in the bull.
‘Barbara Manning, who coaches me, and I have been able to make a list of the small mistakes I made. It means that I know now precisely on what I have to focus on in the build-up to national championships.
‘One of the biggest challenges for me is to get used to shooting from a wheelchair. There were quite a few times during the weekend where I found myself trying to shoot as if still standing and that cost me valuable points. If I can sort that out, I will be able to improve my score easily by 20 or so points.’
Anderson is arguably one of the real heroes of South African sport. Apart from losing the use of his legs he had to overcome another severe setback a few years back. His left arm needed to be amputated after it had been severely damaged in a motorcycle accident.
Anderson finished 17th at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
Picture of Anderson courtesy of Reg Caldecott