BANBRIDGE’S Mel Lawther came close to being a record breaker at archery’s European Grand Prix in Sofia, Bulgaria.
She was part of an Irish team which returned home from the event with the largest haul of medals and records to date, competing in 38 degree heat against 21 different countries from as far afield as Columbia and Cuba.
Mel narrowly missed out on equaling the current world record by one point, to win the bronze medal in the ladies individual event.
She scored an impressive 148 out of 150 which was not beaten over the entire competition. This result now places the Irish ladies record above the men’s.
It’s quite an achievement as Mel has only been shooting compound archery discipline for under two years.
Mel also broke the national record in the individual qualification stage on the way to the finals. She scored 679 in the 50m distance during a torrential thunderstorm that passed over the city during the competition.
The Ladies event was subsequently won by the Italian Anastasia Anastasio, currently ranked 12th in the world, with the Russian Natalia Avdeeva finishing second.
Robert Hall from Carrickfergus, John Smith from DIT and Eamonn Rogers from Dundalk won silver medal in the men’s team event, setting a new Irish record in the semi-finals. This score tied with the Norwegian team, requiring single arrow shoot off to decide which team would progress to the gold medal match. The Irish gents held their nerve to win, going on to meet the world ranked number 1 team, Italy, in the finals.
John Smith then paired up with Mel to win silver medal in the mixed team event. They set yet another national Irish record in the semi-finals against the team from Slovenia. The Irish pair narrowly lost out in the Gold medal match to the world’s number one team, Italy.
This is the best result from an Irish team competing internationally, a massive achievement as they are self-funded and self-managed.
More information on how to get involved with archery can be found at www.archery.ie or www.niarchery.co.uk.