Road to Rio: Amy Oliver's aim true as she sets sights on Olympic glory

Amy Oliver.Amy Oliver.
Amy Oliver.
Dearne Valley archer Amy Oliver insists she is firing better than ever and has her sights firmly set on Rio '“ despite her place on the plane yet to be guaranteed.

Following a disappointing finish in the team event at the World Championships last year, Oliver has had to wait for another chance to nail down a second Olympic berth.

But all will be signed, sealed and delivered with a stand-out performance in front of a home crowd in Nottingham this week.

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Oliver is among the British contingent at the European Championships and will bid to recapture the individual prize she won in 2007.

The championships double up as one of the key opportunities for qualifying for this summer’s Olympic Games with three individual spots on offer.

Oliver, a commonwealth and world championships medallist, was in a confident mood despite knowing her Olympic chance still hangs in the balance.

“Training is going okay. If I stick to my plan and do good preparation it should be fine. It will be a good opportunity. I’m just going to go out there and try my best, so I’m quietly confident.

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“I finished high up in the selection so I’m shooting some good arrows and am looking forward to the Europeans.

“With some of the scores I have been doing in training I would have been ranked in the top 10 at the World Cup.

“If I can do the same in competition I’ll be happy.

“The standard has gone up so much in the last six years. You have to be on your game to do well.

“Everyone can make mistakes and you have to be ready to slot in there and take the match away.

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“It all happens so quickly as well. It could be all over in three sets, and that’s only nine arrows.”

The South Yorkshire archer will join British No 1 Naomi Falkard – a fellow Olympian – and young hopeful Bryony Pitman in the women’s recurve competition in Nottingham and will face stiff competition in the continental qualifying event which adds to the championships.

Six European nations, including powerhouses Russia, Germany and Italy, have already secured Olympic qualification and the British women are one of the favourites to clinch one of the three other places on offer.

Should the British team miss out on home soil, it will come down to an all-or-nothing event at the World Archery Cup in Antalya, Turkey later in the year in June.

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Oliver will have the warmth of home support to aid her challenge and several members of her archery-mad family will make the 30-minute route down the M1.

Family support has been ever-present during Oliver’s shooting career since parents Joyce and Albert, both archers themselves, introduced her to the sport at just six-years-old.

A video of that session features on the 28-year-old’s website but it wasn’t until she turned 14 that she properly took on the family tradition and saw archery as a serious proposition.

“Archery’s in the family,” Oliver said. “It was probably destined for me to be an archer, but I don’t think they were expecting me to be this good.

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“We are an archery family. It makes them proud. They know what it takes to get to where I have got. They understand if I have to miss birthdays and weddings, they all know how important it is to me.

“When I am shooting, I want to make them proud.”

It was home comforts that the 28-year-old credits for maintaining her love for the sport following a shoulder injury which dogged her preparations heading towards London 2012.

After the Games, Oliver returned to her South Yorkshire roots and set up camp to focus attention on an improvement at Rio.

Despite the injury, London will always harbour special memories. The Rotherham archer caused the shock of the archery event as she knocked out Indian world No 1 Deepika Kumari in the first round to the jubilation of the crowd at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

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But her competition came to an end in the following round in a quick 7-1 defeat to Indonesian Ika Yuliana Rochmawati, although Oliver was happy, if a little surprised, by her efforts.

This time around, Oliver feels better-placed to go through the rounds in the Olympic field of 128 and is “niggle-free” having changed her bow to ease the pressure on her repaired shoulder.

Oliver said: “Before London I had a terrible shoulder injury. I was shooting about 80 arrows a day.

“Looking back I think ‘how did I do it and shoot so well’. Now I am up to shooting between 200 and 250 arrows in training.

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“I have no pain now. It’s all focused on trying to hit the 10.

“Before it was coming back up to full draw and thinking, that really hurt. I wasn’t focusing on performing, I was just focusing on not aggravating the injury.

“The injury really gave me a lot of perspective. When I had it, I sat down and thought why am I doing this. I realised I needed to go back to enjoying it.

“That’s why I started archery, so after the Olympics I went back to the things I used to do, and shooting back at home.”