The female archers had a chance to redress the balance by taking part in a knockout novice competition at the University of London (which Stephen used to study at, if you hadn’t heard) against novices from ULU and Imperial. SUAC took Janna Collier, Scarlett Theron Rush, Kate Brookes, Ally Miller, and James Nelson (token non-female competitor) while Stephen Fawcett (woop) came along to guide and lead the team. Janna’s chosen pre-competition preparation could be described as unorthodox; I’m going to be daring and suggest that she won’t be planning on repeating her hydration method the night before BUCS… though all bets are off for after the competition.
There was time for a pre-match pizza, but this was apparently not enough for Scarlett, who was constantly on the prowl for somewhere to get more food, before and after the competition. Despite having been there for four years, Stephen was unaware of the existence of a ‘Patisserie Valery’ in the immediate vicinity of UCL, much to the chagrin of Scarlett when we walked past one on the way to the venue.
The competition equipment box was lost at BUTC, and it seemed that everything was going to conspire against SUAC, as first Ally’s sight wouldn’t screw on to her bow, and then Kate smashed one of her nocks. It took a while for the competitors to adjust to the 13 m distance and the misinformation about the target size, as it turned out they would be shooting 40 cm faces. There was also consternation when nobody from SUAC appeared to be shooting in the first set of matches, the thought being that they were all drawn against each other, but it turned out that our four archers were the top four seeds and had a first round bye. All four went through reasonably comfortably, though when asked on the commentary who his favourite novice was, Stephen responded diplomatically with ‘I like all my novices equally,’ which was still enough to break the bubble of Kate who then missed the target. You’re all my favourite.
James and his barebow had an interesting time in trying to sight at short range on the straw bosses, but came through his first round match. His semi-final match was against one of the better recurves from London, but James pushed him all the way, before losing in the deciding end by a single point.
With all four Southampton ladies in the semi-finals, we would go home with all of the prizes, but the positions were still to be determined. The windows were now open, which was of great relief as the high-pressure mini-BUTC atmosphere had turned up the temperature a little too much for the well-being of all the archers. Ally raced into a lead against Janna, who then brought it back to force a single arrow shoot-off. Ally held her nerve better to play Scarlett, who beat Kate, in the final.
In the bronze matches, James won his match fairly comfortably and with some good shots now that he had settled into a comfortable sighting. Janna somewhat made up for her previous disappointment by beating Kate. Ally won the gold medal match 6-2, though the individual ends were closer than the scoreline suggested, and as well as receiving a medal, a cup (made of silver) and a certificate, she also received a Team GB T-shirt signed by Naomi Folkard, who is also a patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust, the day’s charity beneficiary. All of Southampton won a trophy of some variety, Kate winning a deer trophy for coming 4th (that the medal winners thought looked nicer than the cups they had won).
There was enough time to have to replace a lost train ticket (you’ll owe me some more money Ruth, sorry), but the team made their way home late at night, tired but victorious.
Anthony from London is contemplating doing something similar at 70 m for the seniors, so there may be more to come after Easter.