OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Terry hits undreamt of target

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN, a nation prone to medal hopefuls who fail to make the award ceremony, got a surprise yesterday when an alleged no- hoper came third. Simon Terry cannot even claim to be the country's top archer yet he now has an Olympic bronze medal to put in his sporting curriculum vitae. Who says that Games romance is dead?

Terry, an 18-year-old self-employed roofer from Sleaford in Lincolnshire, proved that days, if not nights, on the tiles are compatible with top class competition when he defeated Norway's Bertil Grov 109-103 in the match for third place in the 70 metres individual event. The gold went to the Frenchman Sebastien Flute.

To qualify for the final phase Terry had finished in 20th place, approximately the spot he expected to fill in the competition proper. To be among the medals was beyond his wildest fantasies. 'I'm surprised,' he said. Surprised? Others were looking at the results sheet as if it was a misprint.

A Spanish champion archer in the press tent had proffered the opinion: 'Terry, no good. He is not a machine. Good archery is muscle memory.' Yet for all his forgetful biceps Terry defeated not only the Olympic gold medallist of four years ago, Jay Barrs of the US, but the bronze medallist, Vladimir Echeev, too. The run was halted only by the world champion, Chung Jae-Hun, of South Korea.

Britain has not exactly got a rich heritage when it comes to the art of the arrow. William Dod got gold in the 1908 Olympics in London while his sister, Lottie, got silver in the same Games.

Eighty-four years had passed without reward until Terry, ranked 20th in Britain as recently as two years ago, came unexpectedly into a medal spot. 'Work has been hard to come by recently so I've had plenty of time to practise,' he said. 'In summer there's enough daylight to practise until 10 and in the winter I shoot in the village church hall.' Yesterday's result will have the wardens at Osbournby less fearful for their windows.

The Spanish champion archer had earlier implored: 'Do not mention Robin Hood or William Tell. You English use them every time you write about the sport.' Some hope. As Britain's most famous archer outside of Radio 4's Phil and Jill finished his press conference a tabloid journalist enquired: 'How far is Sleaford from Sherwood Forest?'