Howse all set for his biggest challenge
TOM Howse will depart for the World Archery Youth Championships in China on Thursday, but preparations have been far from ideal for the 17-year-old, writes Jon Palmer.
Shurdington-based Howse, who is a pupil at Chosen Hill School, has had to battle against illness and defective equipment ahead of the biggest event of his fledgling career so far.
But he is now confident everything is in place for him to be able to perform with confidence in Wuxi, which is just outside Shanghai.
"With 11 days to go before I fly to China I did a competition and found out my equipment was not shooting well," Howse said.
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"The new arrows I bought in early September were not shooting as well as they should do, which was a big problem.
"As a result I was not shooting the same scores as I usually shoot.
"This put me under a lot of pressure, especially with China looming, and the level of competition being so high.
"During that same competition I started to feel unwell and had to retire early from the competition.
"The next day I came down with a severe bout of tonsillitis and my doctor put me on a course of antibiotics.
"I was really ill for the next week and off school and of course I was unable to train all week too.
"Towards the end of the week I started to feel better, and could eat and drink again."
As well as returning to full health, Howse is hopeful his technical problems are also behind him.
"My coach Songi Woo, who was a top Korean archer and Olympic coach who is now coaching in the UK wanted to see me at Lilleshall at the weekend to try and sort out the equipment problems," he said.
"During the weekend, despite still recovering my coach and I were able to identify the problem with my equipment which was twisted limbs.
"Consequently we ordered two new limbs to correct the problem costing £500. They are being sent so they arrive in time for my departure in the early hours of Thursday morning.
"The weekend was spent tuning my second bow and adjusting my primary bow with spare limbs I had."
Between now and his departure, Howse must catch up on school work he missed during his illness.
He has also been told to put in some last minute training, adjusting to his new limbs.
"I need to shoot 300 arrows each day for the next three days," he said.
"On Tuesday evenings as I am a Level One archery coach I help coach at our club's practice sessions.
"I will then be able to taper my training off during the few days acclimatising in China during the practice rounds.
"I hope this week will be less eventful and I can regain my performance levels for China so I can feel proud of how I perform for my country, and for myself."