Tokyo 2020: Great Britain feel the heat in shooting and archery events

Medal hopes heading into the Olympics but conditions will play a part for many this summer

James Toney
In Tokyo
Saturday 24 July 2021 09:16
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Tokyo organisers didn’t think it through when the Olympic flame entered the stadium to the strains of Ravel’s Bolero, a piece of music that concludes with the protagonists falling into the fire.

Naomi Osaka thankfully avoided that fate but it’s fair to say it’s furnace hot here in Tokyo - as Britain’s archers and shooters found to their cost on the first day of competition.

With the thermometer touching 35 degrees and humidity making you crave air conditioning like life itself, expect to see a lot of talk about ‘heat management’ in the days ahead, something the team at the English Institute of Sport have been working hard to counter.

There may be no fans here but there are ‘fans’ everywhere, blowing out cool air to those gratefully gathered around.

You need to go back to 1908 for the last time Great Britain won a medal in the first event of the Games and hopes were high that Scot Seonaid McIntosh could end that 113 years of hurt in the women’s 10m rifle.

McIntosh is Britain’s most successful rifle shooter of all-time, though her target event is next week’s 50m competition, where she fires from three positions (kneeling, prone and standing) and is a former world champion.

However, only the top eight shooters progressed to the final and McIntosh - a World Cup silver medallist two years ago - could only finish 12th.

“I struggled a bit with fatigue and the heat,” she admitted after her competition, which was broadcast live on Eurosport and Discovery+.

“I’m mostly happy with how I fought through it and while the last couple of shots weren’t great, I’m pleased with how I performed overall.

“I don’t really know about next week - I need to process this first and work out what to take forward. It’s a very different event and it’s about keeping that fight.”

McIntosh was born into shooting as the daughter of Shirley, a gold medallist at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and Donald, who also represented Scotland.

And if she had any worries about first-day nerves then sister Jennifer competed in the same event, traditionally the first medal of the Games, at both London and Rio.

“I don’t think it was a factor – my sister has been in the same position and it’s not a thing you think about unless you let yourself,” she added.

If McIntosh was slightly off-target then Patrick Huston and Sarah Bettles were bang on the bullseye as they beat strongly-fancied China in their opening match in archery’s mixed team event, a competition where Britain were recent World Championship medallists.

But against Mexico they wilted - Bettles also admitting the heat took its toll.

“I was happy with my shot, it just fell about because I was hot,” she said.

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+, the Streaming Home of the Olympics.

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