Olympic Games - Archery hotshot Woodgate: Tokyo postponement essential in securing Team GB selection
Joyous James Woodgate admits the one-year postponement of Tokyo 2020 was a game-changing shot in the arm to his Olympic ambitions. Precocious Woodgate, 18, only recently finished at school in Surrey and has enjoyed a searing rise on the Archery GB circuit and he could now take part in this summer's games.
"It's been massive and it's a great opportunity," said Woodgate, one of over 1,100 National Lottery-funded elite athletes on UK Sport's World Class Programme
"I feel really proud. It's been a bit of a weird ride for me because the postponement actually helped me get on to this team.
"I wouldn't have been at the standard that was required for us last year, so it's been a year where I've taken a gap year from my studies to come and train full-time.
"I've come up to Lilleshall to train and it's been a really great year. I've made a load of progress. "That's turned out into this amazing opportunity, so I'm really happy to have made the team with these guys and I'm really proud of that.
"I remember starting to train with [Patrick and Tom] in the winter of 2019. At that point, I was just training trying to get as good as possible.
"I'd shot a few good scores indoors and started competing with these guys. I saw that I was getting there but there was still a way to go.
"When lockdown happened, I got offered the chance to come up and train at Lilleshall - and that's where I started to really focus and really make improvements and see it was a bit more achievable.
"It didn't really settle in until we started doing some competition camps and I was coming at the top and right up there. There was a little inkling in my head ‘could it happen?' And it's turned out that it has."
Woodgate's fledgling archery journey has been fuelled by UK Sport's National Lottery-funded World Class Programme and allows him to train full time, access the world's best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
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Huston, who competed at Rio 2016, and Hall rate Woodgate highly and believe the high bar he's setting in practice is intensifying the team's prospects.
Team GB's men's squad for Japan constitutes a potent blend of youth and experience and Woodgate is relishing the year added.
He first started shooting at the age of seven and had a taste of the big time when competing at the World Youth Championships in 2019.
And the ambitious Woodgate, who competes in the recurve category, added: "This year I'm going to gain so much experience.
"Not just from the Olympics, but from going to the World Cups as well. I'm trying to go into it as positively as possible and soak it all up.
"I really want to perform for Tom and Patrick and make that team what it can be - which we think can win a medal in Tokyo.
"There is a little bit of pressure there, but I want to be able to thrive under that. I'm here so I'm pretty happy and confident to go in and do my best."