Huish’s arena return as ’96 Olympic champ shoots Vegas exhibition

It had been more than 20 years since Justin Huish had shot in front of a large audience.

But offered an opportunity this year at the Indoor Archery World Series Finals, the 1996 Olympic Champion didn’t hesitate to take the chance to entertain a home crowd once again… until he found out who he was shooting against.

“Originally it was going to be against another gold medallist from the past,” he wrote on his Facebook profile. “That would have been really fun for us and all those watching but it didn’t work out. There might have been some pride for them to protect there.”

Instead, there was an open call to find a willing opponent from the nearly-4000-strong entry list.

“The thought was to have me shoot against a college student and, if they won the match, they would have received a cool prize,” continued Justin. “I thought that was a great idea. I had plans of playing with the crowd and ultimately letting the student win. It would have been fun and less focus on my actual ability to shoot well under the pressure.”

When Huish arrived to practice, he found himself paired up with US international Catalina Gnoriega.

“She’s one of our top Olympic-style female shooters. I asked her why she was practising and she said to shoot against me,” wrote Justin. “Things got real all of a sudden.”

Huish told Gnoriega he was expecting to face a college student.

Her reply? “I am a college student.”

“She was killing it in practice and I wasn’t. Now I was the one who didn’t want to embarrass myself and my nerves started to climb exponentially. I was actually going to have to try my hardest if I wanted to win this thing,” admitted Justin.

The pair went on to have one of the most dramatic – and entertaining – contests in an evening jammed with tight matches.

“The feeling you get stepping into a room of 1000s of your archery peers and trying to perform is not like a walk in the park. The change your body goes through is indescribable and I love it,” wrote Justin. “Even though the match didn’t have any consequences, I got crazy nervous and knew I had to dig deep into my bag of tricks.”

The legends match from the 2023 Indoor Archery World Series Finals is available to view on YouTube.