Folkard's medal dream shattered

First published in Sport

NAOMI Folkard got a glimpse of just how cruel the Olympics can be – losing out on a team archery bronze by just one point.

The 25-year old from Kidderminster, along with team-mates Alison Williamson and Charlotte Burgess, had looked on course to see off the challenge of bronze medal rivals France.

No more than three points separated the teams at any point in the clash – in which each of the trio had the chance to fire eight arrows.

But when the pressure was cranked up in the sixth and final end, it was France who coped the best.

“We are absolutely gutted – we came in ranked second in world and had every right to feel confident,” said Folkard.

“We’ve performed well at all the international events for the past two years so it’s so disappointing to fall just short when it really matters.

“We tried our hardest and tried to cope with the pressure and conditions the best we could but it wasn’t quite enough.”

Folkard refused to blame the blustery weather for Britain’s near medal miss.

Torrential rain and lightning delayed the match by over an hour, while Britain lost their semi-final to eventual silver medalists China as a thunderstorm brewed overhead.

“I suppose we got cold but the French would have been cold too, so that made no difference,” she added.

“The weather didn’t affect us much, we could hear the thunder but when you are competing for an Olympic medal you block everything like that out.

“We have shot in rain at most internationals this year so it’s something we are used to. There are no excuses, we are from Britain and are used to bad weather.”

Folkard’s attention will now turn to the individual event on Tuesday, in which her weekend qualification performance has secured her a place as the eighth seed.

Williamson, the bronze medalist in Athens four years ago, is seeded seventh while Korea’s Sung-Hyun Park – who also helped her country win a seventh consecutive team gold – will be the one to beat.

“I have got a day to train on my own and get myself prepared for the individual,” Folkard added.

“The pressure I experienced here will only help with that preparation – I know I deserve to be mixing it with the best in the world and that’s what I aim to do.

“I felt I stuck to my game plan quite well. A couple of shots didn’t go where they deserved but that is the way it goes.

“With a bit more luck, maybe it could have been a different story.”

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