Jersey’s Lucy O’ Sullivan represents Great Britain at archery and took gold at last year’s Island Games. Lucy, a compound archer, kindly took time out of her busy schedule for a chat with KUDOS about her career and more…
So, 2015 was another busy year – gold at the Island Games, the World Championships in Copenhagen. What was the highlight?
My highlight of 2015 was making the World Championship team. This is the second year in a row I have fought for my spot on the GB team; 2014 Armenia, and 2015 Copenhagen. Although I have shot for GB on and off for 10+ years this one was special, I worked hard for the Europeans and used that as a stepping stone for the Worlds. It is fabulous that a periodised plan actually worked and I got to compete for my country again. Twice I have made it to the adult premier, GB trips and wow what an experience! 33rd in the world was great.
The Island Games is a multi-sport event, not dissimilar to something like the Olympics. How do you find competing in those events compared to archery only events? Are the other events going on all around you a distraction, or can you benefit from observing others and maybe switching off a little bit from archery?
I love multi-sport events as much as archery events but unfortunately for the Island Games I was mid-season when it was on. So every day I went to the field, shot, and went home for ice baths and a sleep.
I didn’t really get to see any of the games. The Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 was amazing, that was the first multi-sport event I had been to, and I have to say they are so much cooler!
You get to see the dedication of other athletes and sports which is great.
The Island games being in my home-town of Jersey was amazing, but as I was the poster girl for the games I wanted to perform well for my island so I had to be sensible with not getting fatigued, and as archery was all week I had to look after myself after competing, rather than watch other sports.
Next time I hope the archers will have more time off to get to see the other sports.
I coach a lot of other sports in Jersey as I am a strength and conditioning coach (personal trainer for athletes) so I was more gutted I didn’t get to see my athletes compete. Such as my cyclists and triathletes and squash players. But they all knew I was reading the papers checking up on them, and of course I got to see everyone at the closing ceremony!
How did you find being the focus of home support at the Island Games? Most sports people would want to have a crowd onside but with that comes its own pressure and you can almost try too hard or be overcome with nerves. How did you find it?
The Jersey Island Games was a lot of hard work for me, I had a lot of responsibility to win this one as it was a home games and I was a current winner.
It was really cool as it meant I could get archery in the public eye. I was on stamps, in the airport and on banners. So I got really nervous in the finals for my gold medal, but I knew with my hard work and experience it would pay off.
I was also knackered for these games. I had to miss the opening ceremony, as I was at GB trails for my place at the World Championships the weekend of the start of the games…in which I managed to succeed! I then drove with a fellow archer from Lilleshall to Southampton, slept on their couch that Sunday night, flew from Southampton to Jersey on the Monday and shot the first competition at the Island Games on the Monday, so to say I was tired was a bit of an understatement! But I finished okay considering, and with the home crowd I got through it!
Going back a bit, you used to be a recurve archer but now of course compete in the compound events – what prompted the change?
I was always a very small person! My nickname is anything short related, mainly ‘Little Lucy’. So I was just never big or strong enough to shoot an Olympic bow at 10 years old. The irony is now that I work in a gym lifting weights all day, so I would be strong enough.
I was asked to transfer to the recurve bow in 2006, but I had just come 3rd in the World at compound archery so I decided to stick with that.
Do you have a set routine in terms of practice? If so, how much time do you spend practising? And how do you fit it in with your career and other stuff?
I gym a lot now, and I have found that definitely helps me. I am very lucky as well to have a target in my garden, so I will fling sticks about 4 times a week, if I don’t have clients. And any spare hours between clients or jobs I will gym.
The shooting can be more or less hours but I try and just do as much as my jobs and time allows.
Practice can be a lonely time – do you have any tips for budding archers on how to keep training interesting?
Practice in archery is boring…there, I said it.
So I either score against myself, or play my music while I shoot. Or just work on technique. There are also games we used to play when we were in GB junior squad created by Lana Needham which keeps it interesting. So I try and do that. Other than that try and shoot with someone else – against someone better then you preferably. I always find that keeps things exciting.
Archery still finds itself outside of the mainstream – how do you think it can make strides and become more popular with the wider public?
It’s hard to say how to make archery more mainstream, but we just need to keep plugging away at TV. I think field archery should become like a golf TV plan. So pan out across the field etc. And target archery (my discipline) should be filmed from above and have the archers name and country on the grass in graphics below. Make it like the swimming TV set up.
Mainstream films like ‘Brave’, ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Robin Hood’ have really helped as everyone knows what archery is but perhaps if it was a compound bow that would make things even better for our sport.
What is your primary focus in a head to head? How much attention do you pay to your opponent and their scores?
“You can’t ever control what anyone else shoots, so focus on yourself.”
This is the main thing I have to say to myself, it is hard as everyone no matter who you are will always think about the other person’s score. But I have found that if I focus on getting a world record every time, or 15/15 tens, then that often takes my mind off of the other person and brings focus back to myself as to how can I get those tens.
You’ve been an international / GB archer for over a decade now. What do you think the next decade might have in store for you? What are your aims, both immediate (2016) and longer term?
Wow this is crazy…if I am to compete for GB for another 10 years I will be 35! It’s scary to think what might happen by then. My long term goal at the moment is the 2017 World Championships. I will be going to those, there is also the Europeans in Nottingham this year which I am practicing towards, but I may or may not make the adult team a 3rd consecutive year.
But I am going to give it my best shot. Apart from that I have national series, and lots of local shoots to get on with, with the main focus of using this to practice for 2017! After that who knows… I could be World Champion for all we know…haha!
You’re fairly well-placed to find yourself as a role model for young women in sport. The view that athletes should not be elevated to role models for young people is increasingly common – where do you stand on it? Are you happy to assume those additional moral responsibilities or do you think that’s not part of a sportsperson’s remit?
The main trend nowadays is that sports people *are* role models and it is an honour, even though it is on my island only, to be one of them. You have people like Jessica Ennis-Hill, Beth Tweddle, Roger Federer, Jonny Wilkinson. So many athletes that have amazing attitudes, who are professional people on and off court and I am so proud that as part of Archery I can be one of them.
I believe in people being nice to everyone and anyone, so it was never about just being a nice sports person but an overall good person, so if people can take a good message from that then job done.
Thanks so much to Lucy for her time. Everyone at KUDOS would like to wish her the very best of luck for 2016 and the challenges that lie ahead.
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