The Junior National Indoor Championships we held over the weekend of the 1st and 2nd December in conjunction with the Back2Back and Senior Nation Indoor Championships at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
Our Imogen was going in good form following an amazing record breaking summer and her national ranking of 2nd behind the formidable Louise Piper.
Imogen had entered for all 3 events not being content with just the Junior event and the successes from 2017 coming 6th in the Senior event. The organisers had moved the Back2Back event on Saturday morning back bring the compound event forward which meant that Imogen had to lose to be able to compete for England in the afternoon as the final would clash. The day didn’t start well, which wasn’t a bad thing, but not realising her lower limb was not placed in the socket correctly, meant all the arrows are missing the target completely! Fixed, Imogen started about her business losing the first match. The second match was harder to lose as the archer she was up against wasn’t shooting well herself she won the next match, lost the 3rd and left enough room to not qualify which was the plan. Her last opponent was Archery GB’s Yulia Larkins. Imogen lost the first end following the plan, but then knowing how far back she was overall, Dad updated her and told she could go on and start shooting properly. That was it, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10…Imogen took Yulia out with an impressive 112 – 109! On the down side the 2 point set win, made her qualify for the final! She had to politely decline and pulled out of the final in the afternoon.
At 1 o’clock the England Junior Team Managers Tyler Fife and Vikki Louise Mara, called the England squad over for a briefing and to Imogen’s surprise was named as England Captain as this was her forth cap. In the summer England had set an unprecedented win by winning three outdoor Home Nation Championships back to back and Imogen has been in two of these. England’s indoor record while not quite as good, did win last year with Imogen in the team. This year would make a fifth consecutive win for both indoor and outdoor. Imogen did her team speech and led the warm ups to prepare the athletes for the competition ahead.
Imogen would be competing for herself at the same time as for the England team in the Under 16 Ladies Recurve. Shot on a Portsmouth face, 60cm wide, 1 to 10 zone scoring target face at 20 yards, under strict timed conditions over 60 arrows. Imogen opened with a 10 and quickly followed that up with a 10. The 3rd arrow suffered from an unset positioning and landed in the 8 ring giving 28 out of a max 30. That’s good I hear you say, but at this level, it’s points lost and not points gained. Knowing what she did wrong, she brushed off the worries and reset her mind. A perfect 30 followed by a 29. Then came 30 and 30! Only dropping just 3 points on a max score so far, Imogen was on for a World Record set at 590! She followed this for up with a 29 then a 28 and preceded a 27 which then put out of touch for the magic 591. She finished the 1st half with a 30 and 29 ending in 290/300. Imogen continued with a barrage for 10’s, smashing arrows into the tiny circle 20 yards away that looks smaller than a 10p at this distance. Imogen shot a colossal total of 43/60 golds finishing the 2nd half with another 290 for a 580 out of a maximum 600, county busting record.
What happened to the England team…did we win? Well, it wasn’t looking good. Our compounders were way behind the Welsh and the Scottish archers, so all was not looking good. But the 580 from Imogen helped to boost the missing points over their recurve archers and England were victorious winning 3365 to Wales 3261. With England winning a back to back indoor home nations on top of the three outdoor, five wins in a row is incredible.
During the awards ceremony Imogen was crowned the Junior Ladies British U16 Recurve Champion and awarded the trophy for the Home Nations. She is now undefeated in the last four years. Imogen was the highest scoring female on the day from U18 down and collected The Miles Trophy. SCAS (Southern Counties Archery Association) won the inter county match by a single point over WMAS (West Midlands) 2299 v 2298 and she collected the winning trophy for that too.
All in all, a long but mentally and physically challenging day came to an end. Exhausted she retired for the night to take on the best senior archers the county had to offer on Sunday.
The National Championships started very early, and Imogen had elected to take the 2nd session at 11:30am. All archers were to shoot to World Archery 18m FITA, which is 2/3 the size of the face at just 40cm wide from yesterday’s Portsmouth. The 10 ring is just a couple of 2cm wide but 18 meters away. Imogen shot solidly with an average 3 arrow end score of 27.7 out of 30 and finished 12th out of 83 archers so comfortably inside the 32 needed for the finals.
Imogen despatched her first opponent, fellow academy archer Nichol Burdett 7-3 and faced the Youth Commonwealth Gold Medallist and GB archer Lizzie Warner in the next round. This was to be a tense and impressive battle. Lizzie opened preceding with a comfortable 30-27 win, giving her a 2 point lead over Imogen. Determined to not go out just yet, Imogen fired a perfect 30 to Lizzie’s 29 to even the match. 3rd End and Lizzie shoots a 29. Imogen shoots 10, 10…knowing she needed a 10, Imogen took her time and shot when she was ready. Bringing the arrow to her face, she looses the arrow and the crowd give a “oooh”! It lands in the 6. The string had hit Imogen’s fore arm during the loose and send the arrow off course. 4-2 to Lizzie. Deep breaths and both Dad’s watching with bated breath, Lizzie shoots a 10. Imogen shoots a 10. The Lizzie shoots a 10. Imogen paused, drew the arrow and it goes straight down the X ring. Knowing what needs to be done, Lizzie composed herself and let the arrow lose into the 9 ring. Imogen has to hit a 10 now. She shuts her eyes, visualises the shot and hits a line cutter 10 to take the set to 4 all! Nail biting stuff!
5th and final end. Lizzie’s Dad can’t watch and goes off somewhere into his own world. I’m stood at the back of the hall watching, adrenalin pumping. Imogen’s heart must be galloping! I’ve no idea how she keeps her cool. Both archers approach the line and commence the final end. At this point, a win hands the match one way and a draw gives one point each and goes to a one arrow shoot off as they need 6 set points to win. Lizzie’s first arrow lands and looks like a 10 line cutter; this is called a 9* as could be upgraded to a 10. Imogen shoots straight down the middle with a perfect 10. Lizzie’s 2nd arrow also hot the 10 ring. Imogen steadies herself and follows up with a clear 9. Now the tense goes through the roof. Lizzie has to hit a 10 as would Imogen. Sure enough, Lizzie’s arrow goes into the 10 ring. Imogen follows suit and smashes the 10 ring. Hearts sink as people scramble for binoculars trying to work out of Lizzie’s line cutter is indeed a line cutter, but it’s just to small to see. The judge pulls out a magnifying glass and both archers stand there waiting the decision. DRAW! The judge lifts both arms horizontally to the line ref and declares the draw. 5-5 and into sudden death. One arrow. One score. If both shoot the same, it’s a re shoot and closest to the centre wins.
Lizzie draws 1st and shots a blinder into the edge of the 9 ring and a loud shocked intake of breath from the spectators. Imogen calmly lifts he bow, draws the arrow back and looses and clean shot straight into the 9, giving Lizzie the match as her arrows is upgraded to a 9*.
Imogen finishes her day 9th in all of Great Britain, ending a fabulous weekend. Lizzie went on to win silver losing 6-2 to Bryony Pitman.
Congratulations to Imogen on her amazing achievements this year. I cannot begin to tell you how proud she makes me feel, taking 7 national records, she’s the Outdoor Metric U16 Ladies Champion and now the U16 Ladies Indoor Champion and I’ve had the privilege to watch them all!
Thanks to all of her sponsors. Without you, she just cannot achieve any of this. Aim4Sport for the advice and equipment. SportsAid and the BackingtheBest programme for the huge sum of money to support her and her dream. Sudbury Physiotherapy Centre for looking after her wellbeing as she grows. Andreas Carter Sports for their financial contribution and helping to improve Imogen’s strength and endurance. Dales Hair Salon on top of Halstead Hight Street for the new haircut. It has shocked a lot of people that haven’t see her for a long time.
Write up by proud father, Leon Newby. Everyone at Braintree Bowmen would like to say a huge well done to Imogen for her amazing achievements!