The priceless ability to handle pressure in sport usually separates the wheat from the chaff, but sporting history tells us going into an event without expectation can prove equally fruitful.
Lizzie goes all the way to the final and takes Commonwealth silver
In early September, 15 year old Lizzie Warner, of Kirby Muxloe Archery Club in Leicestershire, headed to Samoa to represent England in the Commonwealth Youth Games without that burden of expectation.
I wasn’t expecting anything. I was hoping to come in the top half but not expecting a medal. I just wanted to shoot how I know I can shoot.
Multi-sport competition provides a real insight and opportunity to learn
And boy can Lizzie shoot. The talented teenager defied her own expectations and duly returned home with a silver medal, having negotiated her way to the final only to find top seed Prachi Singh too good. Lizzie also collected an archery bronze in the mixed team event to complete a memorable and triumphant few days in Samoa.
But despite her humble lack of expectation, Lizzie is no rank outsider. The Glenfield archer wound up her 2014 campaign ranked 4th in the GB junior girls rankings – the highest placed under-16 archer in the country.
For some – such as Beth Tweddle in gymnastics and Caster Semenya in athletics – the Commonwealth Youth Games serve as springboard to future glory. For many it is an introduction to international multi-sport competition, and Lizzie found it a rewarding experience in more ways than one.
It was really interesting to be with athletes from other sports and see how they train and do things differently leading up to competition.
Increased expectations coupled with ambition means the pressure will increase but Lizzie is ready to embrace it
Lizzie’s success at the Games means she will almost certainly go into any future archery events with heightened expectations. How she handles that pressure will be key to future performance, but the prodigiously talented teenager is well-equipped to handle it.
Her sporting hero is Danielle Brown MBE, the two-time Paralympic gold medallist, three times World Champion and multiple world record holder.
She is so determined and doesn’t allow her disability to stop her from still being one of the best, if not the best, women compound archers in the country.
Not content with dominating disability archery, Dani now runs her own sports psychology workshop – Performing Under Pressure – to help others succeed in sport. Lizzie couldn’t wish for a better role model as she strives to fulfil her ambitions.
I aim to shoot as a cadet archer for GB in the European and World Championships. After that I think I have the ability to shoot as a junior (under 21) for GB.
Lizzie’s ultimate goal is to compete in the Olympics, and selection for next year’s Archery GB cadet team at the World Championships would be another step in the right direction. The further down the road she goes, the more the pressure will increase – but Lizzie is ready to embrace it.
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