By Mark Etheridge
The French city of Nimes is fast turning into something of a nirvana for South Africa archers.
Last year the South African compound women’s team of Jeanine van Kradenberg, Danelle Wentzel and Gerda Roux won bronze in the compound division at World Championships at the same venue.
Last week the first two in the team were back at it again, this time for the Nimes Archery Festival.
Some 1400 archers took part and as luck had it the final saw Van Kradenburg, left in picture and Wentzel shooting it out in the gold medal match – a huge fillip for South African archery that is facing a tough future as funding dries up.
Things ended all square in the 12-arrow final and Van Kradenburg earned gold with a one-arrow shoot-out.
Said the 36-year-old mother of two sons on her return back to South Africa: ‘In all my matches I trailed by one or two points but my training prepared me to shoot until the last arrow and not to panic.
‘Winning gold is a dream come true. I’m so proud to represent my country and make the whole world out there there see that we can hold our own against the best in the world,’ she told Road to Rio 2016.
‘I shot some good arrows during the ranking round and finished fifth after a coin toss for fourth place. This really boosted my confidence as only the top 32 would advance to the elimination rounds.’
She’s only been shooting arrows since 2009 after being introduced to the coach by coach and now husband Hans. ‘Since my archery career started I’ve continuously had to struggle to overcome setbacks and challenges but it only made me more determined to keep on shooting and keep on following my dream.
‘I followed a structured exercise and mental training programme designed by Hans for the last 10 months, preparing for the competition. Standing on the line during eliminations I was confident that I was ready.’
What’s next for the Sasolburg hair-salon owner? ‘I’ll continue to work hard! My new goal is to win the SA Nationals later this year and to make the outdoor team.’
National archery president Selwyn Moskovitz went on to explain the code’s financial dilemma.
‘The World Cup consists of four events (Stage 1-4). Two years ago we had money so we competed in all four and Danelle came back home with a medal and the prize money ($2000). The way it works is that any country can enter if you compete in Stage 1-3 – then you are invited to compete in Stage 4. Stage 4 only has 16 competitors.
‘In the 2015 World Cup, we only had enough funds to compete in Stage 3. France was the cheapest of all countries hosting the event and was hence selected. Because we never competed in Stage 1-3, we won’t be invited to shoot in Stage 4 (the finals). SA winning Stage Three was a major upset as it knocked out the favourites who were USA and Korea.
‘Over 500 archers took to the line in Nimes, and our ladies knocked them all out in the rankings and eliminations.
‘This will probably be the last international event that we will compete in for a very long time unless we get a generous sponsor. The fact that we got no funds from the Lottery has a major impact on our sport as we will probably land up in a position where archers who can afford to compete may be selected as opposed to those who qualify.
‘We are expecting our world ranking (currently in the top 10) to drop radically from now onwards.’