Astin Darcy watched, as did many around the globe, as three archers from his home country captured a gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Still new to the sport himself, Darcy remembers thinking, ‘I’d love to be there with them.’
So he vowed to improve his game.
And now, two years later, he’s part of a recurve team for his native Australia that will compete for a gold medal. Not at the Olympics, no, but at the World Archery Indoor Championships in Yankton.
“I’ve been working hard for the last 18 months,” Darcy said Saturday morning, after he helped his Australian team of Ryan Tyack and Taylor Worth reach the finals in the recurve men’s division.
“I told myself, ‘In Tokyo (2020 Olympics), I want to be on that team.’”
Instead, it’s in South Dakota where Darcy — the newcomer on the team of former Olympians — will compete for a gold medal. That match against the Netherlands is set for Sunday at 3 p.m. at the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center.
The 31-year-old Darcy, an admitted late arrival to the sport of archery, didn’t start shooting until the age of 27 after a knee injury took him out of other sports — “something that didn’t require jumping or running.”
He’s now paired with two archers who are certainly much more experienced in the sport, but who each have their own story about what got them started.
“I started because my mom wanted me to pick a sport to get out of the house,” the 26-year-old Tyack said, with a smile. “So it was either going to be archery or fencing.”
Archery eventually won out.
“I loved it right away,” Tyack said. “Although I’m not sure you’ve seen a kid as bad at something right away as I was with this.”
Whatever he worked on, well, worked, because Tyack eventually qualified for the 2016 Olympics, where he teamed with Worth and Alec Potts to win the bronze medal.
“That was an amazing experience,” the 27-year-old Worth said Saturday. “To be with there the team, with my closest friends was awesome.”
The team is so close, Worth added, that Tyack is going to be a groomsman at Worth’s upcoming wedding.
Of course, the challenge ahead of the trip to South Dakota was to work with a new teammate — the World Archery Indoor Championships is the trio’s first competition together.
“We set the expectations really high,” Tyack said. “We knew we could do really well; we had that true belief.”
In an archery team competition, the three archers take turns shooting in head-to-head matches against other teams. The timing is critical, the Australian trio said.
And even though they were breaking in newcomer Darcy to the team, they were confident.
“We always knew there was this potential,” Worth said. “We knew if we worked on our strategies and our moves behind the line, the results would come no matter what.”
Darcy said the goal in Yankton is to further develop a team that can qualify — and compete for a gold medal — for the World Championships next year, ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
“That’s been my primary focus for the last year or so,” Darcy said.
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