PMB’s very own wins gold at World Indoor Archery Championship

2017-04-11 14:00
Pietermaritzburg’s James O’Neill won a gold medal at the World Indoor Archery Championships (WIAC) tournament held in Brasov, Romania.

Pietermaritzburg’s James O’Neill won a gold medal at the World Indoor Archery Championships (WIAC) tournament held in Brasov, Romania. (Nompilo Kunene)

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The sporting journey of a Pietermaritzburg father of three, who became a professional archer by default at the age of 50, reached new heights last week.

Hayfield resident James O’Neill scooped a gold medal at the World Indoor Archery Championships (WIAC) tournament held in Brasov, Romania.

O’Neill (58), who was introduced to the sport by his 22-year-old son nine years ago, was yesterday still struggling to come to terms with the fact that he was now a world champion.

“When I entered I also saw the competition as an opportunity for a brief vacation as I had never been to Romania before — I never thought I would come back a champion.

“As the competition progressed, I became more confident and once I took the lead I just hung in there,” O’Neill, who was competing in the veterans category of the tournament said.

O’Neill, who has to shoot 150 arrows a day to stay at the top of his game, had to throw in everything to be crowned champion.

“The competition was very stiff — there was this one guy who kept on breathing down my neck and in the end I beat him by a single point — it was a close one indeed,” he said.

A process control technician at Umgeni Water, O’Neill knew little about archery before his son, Patrick, a civil engineering student, introduced him to the sport.

“Once I started practising I never looked back, and I do not see myself retiring any time soon — the sport has become a very important part of my life.

“Since I started nine years ago, my concentration has improved and I can focus for far longer periods than before.

“I have become more productive at work and my energy levels have gone up,” he said.

Despite joining at a late stage of his life, O’Neill was able to make big strides within a short space of time.

His passion for the sport has since seen him being elected chairperson of the Pietermaritzburg Archery Club.

“As chairman of the Pietermaritzburg Archery Club, my main goal is to see more and more local residents taking part in the sport.

“The sport does amazing things for one’s personal development. I know a kid who used to fail at school but started to pass with distinction after joining the sport — it improves one’s concentration tremendously,” he said.


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