Ballyvally Archery Club’s Mark Nesbitt has backed his club-mates to be a success at this week’s World Archery Championships.
A record SIX Ballyvally members are in Team GB for the tournament, which starts in Croatia today (Tuesday) and climaxes with the finals on Sunday.
The experienced Nesbitt is joined by Rebecca Lennon, Craig McCreery, Dean Hamilton, Robert Mallon and Morgan Russell Cowan, who makes her debut for the senior GB side.
With three other members of the side hailing from NI, archery in the country is at an all time high.
“It’s the most we’ve ever had from Northern Ireland in a GB team and hopefully we’ll be bringing home some medals,” Nesbitt said.
Russell Cowan isn’t the only fresh recruit as Dean Hamilton also makes his debut for the field archery team. He recently returned from the Junior European Championships in target archery with a bronze medal and Nesbitt reckons the young archers have what it takes to succeed this week.
“The juniors seem to do well to be honest,” he said. “They seem to bring home most of the medals.
“Sometimes your first international competition can be one of your best. You have no expectations at that stage. Now I have expectations on me and those can be distractions.
“To get into the Senior GB team, you have to be shooting at the top 16 levels from the previous World Championships so we know that all the guys have the ability to do well in Croatia.
“It’s great to see the younger guys in the club and from all the clubs in Northern Ireland coming up now and getting into the team.
“The sport is definitely growing in Northern Ireland and there are a lot of very good archers coming up at the clubs.
“It’s a big learning curve for them and good experience. I try to give them wee bits of advice and share my experiences with them. I try to keep them right and help them to learn from some of the mistakes that I have made in the past.”
Nesbitt certainly has a wealth of experience to draw on, having picked up two silver medals in each of his last two World Championships. Can he repeat that feat this time around?
“I don’t know,” he said.
“I’m about 40 points over the qualification score so I’m probably hitting top five level. I led the qualifying in the European Championships but there are going to be a lot of good archers in Croatia.
“If I shoot to my full ability, I could get through to the semi-finals. That will be my goal again this time, to break into the top four but that’s going to be tough. One small mistake and that could be it all over.
“It’s all on the day. You can’t predict who is going to win in tournaments like this or the Olympics. It’s all on the day.”
Due to work commitments, Nesbitt hasn’t been able to get into full-time training.
“You should really be training for about three weeks leading up to something like this but with my work situation, I can’t do that,” he said.
“I’ve just been getting home from work and straight out to practice in the evnings. Then I took a few days off at the end of last week to get ready for the Championships.
“Work have been very supportive with it all to be fair. This is my big holiday, I don’t get anywhere else suring the year so I’m looking forward to it.”