Peters says Yecheon signals progress for Canada in transitional period

Canadian recurve men won  first World Cup team medal at Yecheon 2024.

ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT is presented by WIAWIS.

The Yecheon 2024 Hyundai Archery World Cup was history for Canada last week.

In a major surprise, the Canadian recurve men’s team defeated Italy, that included Olympic silver medallist Mauro Nespoli, to win bronze in what was their highest ever international circuit's team finish.

Eric Peters, Reece Wilson-Poyton and Brandon Xuereb’s success however didn’t just symbolise history for the country but progress in a period of transition.

The past 18 months have been troubling for Canadian archery since the departure of long-time coach Shawn Riggs in 2022 who Alan Brahmst, Archery Canada’s high-performance director described as an ‘anchor’.

Berlin 2023 world silver medallist Peters revealed exclusively in Korea the difficulties he and his compatriots had faced since Riggs’ departure.

“We lost a lot of our structure in training,” he explained. “We lost a lot of organised practices as a group because we’re not in a centralised system like some teams are.”

“We didn’t get a shoot team round last year as a team for the most part outside of training camps in the men’s. That was the reality of the team.”

Canada is currently under the tutelage of Ron Van Der Hoff albeit on an interim basis with the former Dutch Olympian still based in the Netherlands.

Eric Peters aiming in Yecheon 2024.

It means the current crop of Canadian archers operate in what Peters called an ‘athlete-led environment.’

“The structure is difficult,” admitted the 2024 Vegas Shoot bronze medallist when asked on the present coaching situation. “Ron’s still remote for us.” 

“Part of that is the reality of Canadian sport. That’s not uncommon… it’s the reality of the funding situations we have with Sport Canada and ‘Own the Podium’ which is part of our Olympic committee funding.” 

“I can’t say it’s been easy for everyone. At least until post-Paris, this is what we must work with, and I think we’ve done a good job of making the best of what we’ve got.”

Peters also explained how the team have prioritised training together with it previously being difficult to schedule due to the size of Canada.

A hub rather than a swathe of athletes, Peters believes is the best way to rebuild the country’s archery.

“This version of the team is a little bit more compact for sure. The travel is easier, and we’ve put bigger strides into being a team and training as a team and doing drills as a team, interacting as a team to build a culture that is going to take us somewhere that we were absent last year.”

Peters and his teammates certainly haven’t gone amiss in 2024, with the 26-year-old been a part of three medal teams including Yecheon, winning silver and bronze also in both men and mixed teams in the 2024 Pan American Championships.

Canada recurve men’s team won bronze in Yecheon 2024.

In addition, Peters individually the past 12 months won silver in Berlin, losing to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Champion Mete Gazoz, claimed bronze in the Vegas Shoot and also set a new national record in the Pan Am Championships. 

Despite losing to the eventual silver medallist Kim Woojin in the third round at Yecheon, who he labelled as a ‘brick wall’, Peters was upbeat about his performances.

“I feel good about this year broadly,” the 27-year-old claimed. “The reality of archery is we’ve had a good team result here, and I can be incredibly proud of that, of Virginie Chenier for the mixed team… and in the Pan Am Championships even as hard as it was.”

“As an individual, it’s just luck of the draw. I can look at the numbers of how well I’ve been shooting, and I know the quality I’ve been shooting in my matches and qualifying.”

“On the right day, I’m as good as or better than anyone else. It’s just about who you run into and… it’s the reality of the format, there is some randomness to it.”

Should Peters be selected for Paris – the nation currently has one spot per gender booked – he will be hoping the randomness plays on his side in his maiden senior Olympics. (He won Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games mixed team bronze alongside Mirjam Tuokkola.)

A medal at Les Invalides really would be the beacon of light for Canada at the end of what has been a dark and uncertain tunnel.

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