Five-time Olympian Naomi Folkard debuts as coach with British team

Naomi Folkard shoots at the test event for the Tokyo 2002 Olympic Games.

Naomi Folkard is back travelling with the squad from Great Britain ahead of the second stage of this year’s Hyundai Archery World Cup in Gwangju.

But she’s no longer on the target list – instead, she’s coaching.

“I’ve only been in the role two days before we left so I’m not here to make a huge impact in Korea,” she said. “The team worked well together in Antalya and we all want to keep that environment.”

Folkard appeared in five consecutive Olympic Games from Athens 2004 to Tokyo 2020, recording a career-best finish of seventh at Rio 2016. For the past few years, she’s been coaching youth athletes while competing, too.

With the departure of Britain’s former top coach Richard Priestman last month, Naomi has found herself in a newly-created performance coach role on the squad after a restructure removed the nominal ‘head coach’ position.

(Priestman has since found a new gig heading up the performance programme in Israel.)

“I’m looking forward to building and changing my relationships with the athletes,” said Folkard, who is now 38.

“I doubt anyone feels completely prepared for stepping into a role like this but I’m hoping my approach to coaching will create the right environment for athletes to thrive.”

Naomi brings a wealth of experience from her time competing on the international circuit.

She made her debut on the Hyundai Archery World Cup at the very first event in 2006 – in Porec, Croatia – and has appeared in 46 stages over 15 season.

Britain had once of its best-ever performances at this year’s opener in Antalya last month when Ella Gibson and Bryony Pitman won the individual competitions – with Pitman also collecting women’s team gold and mixed team silver.

Neither are on the entry list for the competition in Gwangju. Pitman withdrew over the last few days due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Five recurve archers – reigning Indoor Archery World Series Champion Penny Healey, Jaspreet Sagoo, Tom Hall, Alex Wise and James Woodgate – will represent Britain at the event.

Competition in Gwangju starts with qualifying on Tuesday.

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