Archery ace Bryony Pitman has swapped bow and arrows for brainpower after enjoying an Olympic summer to savour. The Shoreham star finished ninth in the individual event in Tokyo and has only now been able to reflect on her achievements after a stacked summer of competition. After winning the British Championships in August, the 24-year-old went to the European Championships in Croatia where she won a mixed gold medal alongside Conor Hall, before finishing ninth at the World Championships in America. She's now back home after a jam-packed schedule and is turning her attention to completing a Master's degree in Intelligence and Security at London's Brunel University. And the south coast star, one of over 1,000 athletes who are able to train full-time, access to the world's best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding, said: "I think the Tokyo experience overall was just absolutely amazing. "I think even with the restrictions, it was still like no event I've ever been to before. "When you've only got that one thing it just becomes the be all and end all and I actually didn't perform as well. I was just so focused on that and putting so much pressure on myself. "If I've got something else as well, it takes some of that pressure away. I actually find that I perform better because of it and I think it also helps with time management. "Trying to juggle everything as well as training at the national centre at Lilleshall - which is a four hour drive for me - at times was a bit much, but I had the support from the university, which was really great, and from ArcheryGB as well." Pitman successfully navigated her way through the ranking round, last 64 and last 32 in Tokyo to tee up a clash against Russian Elena Osipova in the last 16.
She couldn't advance to the quarter-finals, however, putting up an admirable fight but unable to keep her Olympic dream alive. Pitman knows she has her whole career in front of her and hopes learning the lessons from her Games debut can catapult her to future glories. "My performance in qualifying wasn't very good, I was really nervous," added Pitman, who will bid to add to the 1,000-plus Olympic and Paralympic medals achieved by British athletes since National Lottery funding to elite sport started in 1997 at Paris 2024. "I just don't think anything could have prepared me for how I would feel stepping out on that stage.
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"In the rest of my individual matches I shot really well. I really enjoyed it and to say I finished ninth at the Olympics, I'm over the moon with that. "I'd got bronze at the last Europeans so I wanted to improve. To come away with not just a mixed team gold medal but the first one ever on a field event, it meant the absolute world. "I think my individual performances in matches have improved across the whole year and my confidence has built, that's something I'm really looking forward to taking with me into next season." Pitman is also acutely aware of the crucial role of National Lottery funding and added: "There's no time to get a job but at the same time, I have to have some kind of income to be able to live and continue competing. "It means the absolute world to have support from The National Lottery." No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes
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