By Carlo Cerutti. Last Updated: 22/05/12 12:06pm
Amy Oliver: The GB archer in action
There is a funny video of Amy Oliver on YouTube: against a backdrop of cloudy sky one can see the future Team GB archer - aged only six years and 10 months - being given her first archery lesson.
With apparent effortless ease, Oliver nocks and shoots five arrows in 90 seconds. "Is that right dad?" - she asks. "Just relax your fingers when you let go, and keep your hand under your chin," answers Amy's father, at the time a competitive archer himself.
The girl, dutifully, adjusts her technique and releases a perfect shot.
This anecdote says a lot about Oliver's attitude: her capacity to take criticism positively, move on, work hard and improve, catching up with the best.
So much so that in April the up-and-coming archer from South Yorkshire outplayed all the other opponents running for a slot at London 2012.
Oliver dominated the selection shoots held at Lilleshall National Sports Centre notching up a final score of 6167.60, ahead of legends such as Naomi Folkard (6130.67) and five-time-Olympian Alison Williamson (6058.60), who both qualified for the Olympics as well.
This stunning - let's say unexpected - result, has pinpointed her as the official front-runner of the Olympic women's team, the one most likely to take over from Alison Williamson as the leading lady of GB Archery. For confirmation of the enthronement - we have to wait until this summer's Olympics.
Ever since Oliver took up Archery, she has always felt positive about what she could achieve. Aged 18, she was called up to shoot in the World Field Championship in Sweden- her first international competition.
Oliver finished in the top 16. Watching the finals the next day, she said to her team manager: "That's where I want to be next year, the finals." She was referring to the European Field championship, another competition that would have taken place in Croatia within a year.
Some twelve months later, she fulfilled that promise, becoming European Field champion aged 19. She was the first British woman to win such a title in the last twenty years.
"I can't imagine a squad working better together than us.
Amy Oliver Quotes of the week
She said: "I've never felt discouraged or disappointed throughout my career; I've never had a real low point in my life. I've always known that following the "right way", eventually I could have accomplished all the targets that I had set."
The "right way" is nothing but an endless process of perfecting the shooting technique, becoming ever-fitter and shoring up mental strength - a quality that in archery is as important as a low heart rate or a good posture.
The right way is what Peter Suk, the former Olympic coach, taught her so doggedly for years.
She added: "The first time I met Peter was in 2009: he asked me to do some exercises, push-ups and sit-ups to see how strong I was. He then looked at my shooting technique and said, 'Ok, some work to do, but potential'. He always wanted more."
And "more" is what Oliver has always given him, until becoming the very best archer in the UK this April, aged 24. Now a much more demanding competition awaits her.
Amy, together with Naomi Folkard and Alison Williamson, form the women archery team that will compete this summer.
"The competition is really hard: Italians, Korean and Chinese remain the favourite, but we can be on the podium as well. I feel very confident about it, I have no doubts we can pull it off," Oliver adds.
"We've been supporting each other so much in the last year; I can't imagine a squad working better together than us".
This confident view of the Olympic outlook is exactly what Team GB needs in order to exorcise the unhappy memories of Beijing 2008, when the women's team missed out on a bronze medal, losing against France by just two points.
The feeling is that with such a freshly-motivated, inspired Oliver, this time the home crowd could witness a completely different finish.
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