Archer takes aim for 2016 Olympics

Outwood Academy Portland pupil and archer Robert Gray, 15 is to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games
Outwood Academy Portland pupil and archer Robert Gray, 15 is to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games

A WORKSOP schoolboy has set his sights on competing at the Olympics in four years time.

Robert Gray (right), 16, is the youngest athlete to have represented Great Britain Archery, after his debut in the European Junior Cup in July.

Outwood Academy Portland pupil and archer Robert Gray, 15 is to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games

Outwood Academy Portland pupil and archer Robert Gray, 15 is to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games

He came 17th out of 43 competitors, but hopes the experience will stand him in good stead for the future, as he focuses on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I’m really looking forward to watching the Olympics this year.”

“I haven’t got tickets for it yet, so I’ll probably watch it on TV,” the Outwood Academy Portland pupil said.

“I’m part of the 2016/2020 Olympic Development Programme, which tries to help juniors progress to senior level.”

Outwood Academy Portland pupil and archer Robert Gray, 15 is to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games

Outwood Academy Portland pupil and archer Robert Gray, 15 is to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games

As he prepares to watch the cream of the world’s athletes in London this summer, Robert is optimistic his Olympic dream will one day become a reality.

“I am extremely excited to have a place in the squad and I have my fingers crossed for the 2016 games,” he added.

The teenager, who first picked up a bow and arrow at the age of three, trains up to two hours a day, six times a week and is a member of Welbeck Archers.

And all the hours in the gym seem to be paying off. He is currently ranked first in the country for his age group and fifth in the U18s category.

The European Junior Cup last year in Cyprus, in particular, was a real eye opener, said Robert.

“It was really exciting and seeing how good they all were woke me up,” he said. I realised how good I needed to be to compete.”

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“It was an overwhelming experience and a worthwhile one.”

A keen sportsman, he also plays cricket and football - when he’s not revising for his GCSEs.

“I want to go on to sixth form to study PE, business, accounting and geography,” he added.

“Hopefully, I’ll have more flexibility with my training times too.”

Tackling his equipment costs has become easier too. Robert gained funding from the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), despite it being designed for athletes aged from 17–28.

Portland head Elaine Hamilton said: “I’m really proud of all he’s achieved. He’s a really dedicated sportsman and I wish him well in all future competitions.”

“It’s a tremendous achievement for him to be part of the GB team.”