Olympics will still be special for debutant Pitman despite being behind closed doors

Bryony Pitman doesn’t think a behind closed doors Tokyo 2020 devalues her Olympic debut.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:32 pm
Archer Bryony Pitman is looking forward to her first Olympics, despite the games in Tokyo taking place behind closed doors. Picture by Karl Bridgeman/Getty Images for British Olympic Association

And the Shoreham sharp shooter says there’s only one way to silence the Japanese boo boys – by peppering the middle of the target and ascending the podium on her sport's highest stage.

Precocious Pitman, 24, heads to Japan in a six-strong Team GB archery squad alongside four-time Olympian Naomi Folkard and Rio 2016 star Patrick Huston.

She’s balanced her arrows with a degree at Brunel University but will now face her toughest test yet when she takes on the Tokyo target on Friday.

Supporters will be absent at this summer’s showpiece but Pitman, already a World and European Championship medallist, insists that doesn’t diminish her excitement at making her Olympic bow.

She said: “I’m just as excited and I think the Games will be just as special.

“Obviously there will be aspects that we miss out on but in terms of the competition side of things, it’s still the Olympic Games and still one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

“To take part in that, however it happens, is just an incredible feeling.

“I’m incredibly happy to do part of this team. Sometimes it was hard to find the motivation – like last April when it was unsure what was going to happen.

"But we’ve learned to adapt and at the end of the day, all we can do is focus on our own performance, prepare as best we can, and that’s been the driving factor for me.”

Pitman scooped European bronze in the Netherlands in 2019 alongside fellow Tokyo-bound stars Folkard, 37, and Sarah Bettles, 28.

And she followed that up with gold – in the same trio – at the European Games in Minsk as Great Britain’s female stars geared up for Tokyo in the perfect way possible.

The one-year postponement derailed their 2020 plans but 12 months on, Pitman knows Team GB’s close-knit spirit will serve them well in Japan.

One of Pitman, Folkard and Bettles will compete alongside either Huston, Tom Hall or James Woodgate in the mixed team event and the south coast star whoever the two selected, they’ve got a cracking shot of medalling in the cross-gender showpiece.

“Expectation-wise, and based on our 2019 performances, we’ve got a really good chance as a team," added Pitman, whose Olympic debut will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

“We’re all shooting really well so from that point of view, it looks really strong. In the men’s team event there’s a lot of potential in terms of individuals but even in the mixed team, whatever combination that ends up being, there's lot of potential.

“We’ve got a really good shot – and a realistic chance of a medal.”

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