Valladont triumphs at the last in Wroclaw
On a day where the USA had already celebrated their best medal haul in Archery World Cup history, a noisy American squad were cheering on Zach Garrett in the final match of the tournament.
He was up against French archer Jean-Charles Valladont – a man with a lot of World Cup experience and many team trophies, but no individual title in many appearances - though he took bronze in Wroclaw in 2014.
It was a fantastic battle between two archers with very different styles on the day - Valladont pumped and riding his emotions, Zach much more relaxed and calm.
They split the points in the first set, Valladont drilled two tens to take the second, then Garrett did the same to take the third. At 3-3, Garrett edged a ten in with the last to make it 5-3, but didn't find the middle in the next set. The crowd was set for their third shootoff finish in a row in an exciting set of individual finals.
Valladont takes up the story…
“So we get to the shootoff, and I’m fine. I think, ‘there’s just one arrow to the gold here’. I mean, I’ve been competing seriously for eight years, and been doing archery for nearly fifteen years, and it comes down to this,” he said.
“I really wanted it. Last year I was third. I really wanted to win this one. I know the American team are people who really want to win. It’s not easy to take them on."
"So I shoot my shot. I shot a nine. I look at it, and go ‘okay’.”
“I knew it wasn’t great. Actually, when it left the bow I thought “that’s going in the red.” But it hit the nine. I could only see the distance between it and the middle of the ten ring, and it looked really big. I knew he had something left, and he wanted it.”
“But he shot it, and it wasn’t good. You could see when he did it that it wasn’t good. So that’s it.”
It had been a tough season for French archery – the squad did not manage to qualify any recurve archers for Rio in Copenhagen. In France's other medal match earlier in the day, the mixed team went out after a strong performance from Belarus.
“It's true things haven’t been so good this year, but archery is about ups and downs. You are shooting for many things: Individual matches, for your team, for the nation and just for yourself. Whatever is past is past, you just have to concentrate on the things that make a difference: your mental and physical technique.”
“So just when things seem down, they can be back up again. We (the team) have been through some bad times, but sometimes, one arrow can make all the difference.”
“It’s my first Archery World Cup gold medal in eight years. I’ve had a few third places and fourth places but that’s it. This is my first gold medal. It means exactly what you think it means.”