Tokyo Games - Archery star Sarah Bettles has Olympic medal in sights after break reignites passion
Sarah Bettles believes a break from archery and relocation has boosted her chances at this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo. The 28-year-old is heading to her first Games and is aiming to return to Great Britain with a medal after managing to reignite her passion for the sport. The rescheduled Olympics are due to kick off on July 23rd.
Sarah Bettles of Great Britain competes during the Ready Steady Tokyo - Archery, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field on July 14, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.
Sarah Bettles reckons lockdown rekindled her love for archery - and she can contend for a medal at her maiden Olympic Games.
The Harold Wood star will be one of a three-pronged women's team descending on Tokyo alongside evergreen Naomi Folkard - who is heading for her fifth Games - and precocious 24-year-old Bryony Pitman.
Bettles, who originally hails from Harold Wood in Essex, bought a house in Telford during the recent lockdown but says the temporary break in competition has given her a new lease of life ahead of a golden Japanese summer.
"Every year I'm getting better so I've just had an extra year to prepare. I've been shooting personal bests this year that I don't think I would have shot this time last year.
"Although it's frustrating from a shooting side, I've taken a bit of time to have time to myself and remember why I enjoy doing what I do - then refocus and put my all back into it.
"I think I'm definitely going into it much stronger than I did last year.
"Just before the first lockdown, all of our training was ramping up and we were starting to feel the pressure a little bit.
"Then when lockdown happened, it gave me a chance to take a step back and reaffirm why I'm doing what I'm doing - and re-find my love for the sport.
"Then when I did pick up training and really push for it again, I had that in the back of my head: 'I know why I'm doing this, I know that I definitely still love this and this is what it's for.'
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"Having that break during the first lockdown gave me more time to focus and work on that mental side, so I'll be better mentally prepared going into the Games now."
Bettles' burgeoning shooting journey is fuelled by UK Sport's National Lottery funded World Class Programme, which allows her to train full time, access the world's best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
The recurve ace scooped World Championship bronze in Holland two years ago before going on to win gold in the team competition at the 2019 European Games.
Sarah Bettles of Great Britain poses for a photo to mark the official announcement of the archery team selected to Team GB for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Lilleshall National Sports Centre on April 14, 2021 in Newport, Shropshire
Image credit: Getty Images
Bettles spent lockdown travelling between Essex and Lilleshall - Archery GB's base - but has finally settled in Telford ahead of a crucial few months head.
Juggling house hunting and shooting hasn't been easy but Bettles says she's relishing her newfound balance as training ramps up.
"It was certainly interesting trying to find a house to buy and travel backwards and forwards while training," added Bettles, who is looking to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997.
"I was just trying to plan my training programme around when I was going to move. I ended up shifting my break around when I moved.
"It's been a really good move, and it's given me a really nice focus outside of training. I come home and think of parts of the house to work on. It's given me a nice separation between work and home life."