Lord’s looks to be on target for its Olympic challenge

PHILIP BARKER checks out the media arrangements at the 2012 Olympic archery venue, and finds Lord’s in need of a Korean translator for probably the first time in its history

One episode of the Archers where everyone gets the point, during the Olympic test event at Lord's. Photos by Philip Barker

It was always going be surreal to go to Lord’s to watch anything other than cricket, especially in October. As it turned out , the weather would not have been out of place at the height of an English summer.

In 2012, summer at the home of cricket will be punctuated by Olympic archery. This week’s London Classic was designed to offer a taste of things to come.

Many of those who pitched up on Monday were disappointed to discover that the action was not to be found on the hallowed turf of the Test match arena but instead on the nursery ground. The ranking round is about seedings for the competition proper. It was held in the shadow of Lord’s Media Centre, a scene to be repeated next year on the same day as the Games Opening Ceremony. Archery will thus be the first individual sport contested at 2012, and the first to be held actually in London.

Former SJA Sports Writer of the Year Michael Atherton has not followed England to India this week. Instead, he (or at least his editor), decided that he should spend his Tuesday watching the team competition on a ground he came to know well so well as England cricket captain .

Archers shoot their arrows towards targets set below the Media Centre.  World Archery have tweaked their match format with the introduction of a 20-second time limit to shoot each arrow in the the hope it will attract the TV viewer.

Matches do come thick and fast, and the big screens made it easier to follow proceedings from anywhere in the ground, though when these developed a fault on the first morning, the archers were forced to wait until the problem was rectified. Next year officials are hoping the sell-out crowd of 5,000 will generate a real atmosphere with rather more volume than the usual polite applause. The stands will be positioned on the outfield in front of the Pavilion, though not, as organisers were at pains to point out, on the hallowed square itself.

Most journalists at the test event watched from the media centre. Here the wifi was commendably rapid, though if the sun shines, they will be well advised to bring something to shade computer screens. Next year the Pavilion will be another vantage point and cabled internet facilities will be made available there too.

One of the prime positions for photographers will be halfway up the range , offering some great close ups complete with classic Victorian architecture as a backdrop.

The mixed zone for the main competition was in the front row of the Pavilion, immediately below what is normally the England dressing room and balcony, though these were not being used. No danger then of any of a Matt Prior style incident.

The scene at Lord's in full Olympic archery mode

Back at the Nursery End, Atherton declined to participate in the “have a go at archery” session laid on for the media, but many others did, including Sir Matthew Pinsent, there for the BBC. He hit the gold more than once, though Olympic medallist Alison Williamson who put him through his paces insisted, “It was all in the coaching.”

American Brady Elllison volunteered that he had not shot on a cricket field before but was looking forward to shooting in “the stadium”. What Thomas Lord would have made of Brady’s assessment is anyone’s guess. “It looks like a very well kept golf course,” said the young American.

Meanwhile, Korea’s Im Dong Hyun broke his own world record score in the qualifying and helped his team do the same in the team event. He made all the right noises about shooting in this historic venue, but admitted another part of the British sporting establishment was more on his mind. “I think more about the football. I’d love to go and see Arsenal and Park Chu Young,” he said.

This we learnt through an interpreter supplied by the team. While other language translators were provided by the organisers, Korean was not, though on finals day London 2012 say this omission will be rectified.

Test event competition continues until Monday.