As a youngster, Johan Wilsenach sometimes pretended to be Robin Hood when he aimed his bow at some target or other.
Next month, when he represents Team South Africa at the African Youth Games in Algiers, Algeria, he will be hoping to replicate the ‘legendary’ Hood’s skills of never missing when it matters.
There’s quite a lot at stake. If he wins, there’s a possibility he’ll get to compete at the third Youth Olympic Games, taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October.
Wilsenach proved during last year’s Junior World Championships that he has big match temperament when he finished 17th overall.
At the moment, the Tuks archer’s best score is 659, which he shot during practice. In competitions, he has shot 642.
‘My goal is to try and get to be good enough to shoot on average 660, if I can do so, it will mean that in most international competitions, I could get a top 20 finish or maybe even top 10.’
His passion for archery started the day his dad got his first bow and started shooting.
‘I was four years old. At first, I had a plastic toy bow to play with, but when I was five, I got my first real bow. I was immediately hooked. I never enjoyed playing with balls or toy cars. I was always out there shooting either with a “kettie” or a bow at targets pretending to be Robin Hood or some knight. Cowboys and Indians was always a favourite game.
‘At seven, I competed for the first time in a competition. I competed in both recurve and compound competitions until I was about 13. I then had to choose. As it’s my dream to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games, I continued shooting with a recurve bow.’
Wian Roux is the other Tuks archer who will compete in Algeria. His aim is also to qualify for the Youth Games. He finished 33rd at last year’s Junior World Championships. His best first-round score of 335 is a South African age-group record.
According to Roux, he loves archery as it’s a sport in which physical strength is not required.
‘It’s just you, your bow and the target. The main requisite in our sport is to have utmost concentration and the ability not to panic when making a mistake. When one of your arrows go off target, it’s important to forget about it and focus on your next shot immediately. The moment you start wondering about what went wrong is when you start doubting your abilities. Then you are doomed.’
Photo: Wilsenach in training, by Reg Caldecott