Archers aim for world title

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:04 AM ET

Jeff Gunter is usually the easiest guy to spot whenever his son Allan competes in an archery competition.

He's the guy turning blue from a lack of oxygen.

"I have trouble watching Allan shoot in high-pressure situations," said the proud papa, who has had fellow spectators come up to him at competitions and tell him to breathe. "I am way more nervous than he is."

In March, the Gunters will get another chance to test Jeff's nervous system.

Allan Gunter and Selkirk's Doris Jones were named last week to the Canadian National Team for the World Indoor Target Archery Championship, March 23-27 in Aalborg, Denmark. The team will be led by Jeff Gunter as head coach.

It marks the second trip to a world championship for all three. Last summer, Allan was a member of the Canadian team that captured the junior men's compound team gold medal at the Junior Outdoor Target Archery Championships in England with Jeff serving as the men's team assistant coach. The Canadian team beat the favoured United States in a tough head-to-head final match.

"Usually (his father) tries to stay out of sight of me because he knows that he's going to be really nervous and he doesn't want me to see him being nervous," said Allan, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate who has been competing for five years.

With both Canadian men's and women's teams reaching the junior finals, the elder Gunter switched to looking after the junior women's team to keep from freaking out.

"We were 30 feet apart and I was coaching the girls and glancing over (at the men's final) trying not to be too obvious about it," said Jeff.

As well, Jones -- a 16-year-old Grade 10 student at Lord Selkirk Regional -- picked up the silver in the cadet women's compound event and added a bronze in the cadet women's compound team event in England.

The elder Gunter is confident that the Manitobans will acquit themselves well as part of the Canadian team in Denmark against European teams which take the sport extremely seriously.

"They are both world-class archers," said Gunter. "Allan was a junior gold medallist and Doris Jones from Selkirk is a junior world silver medallist. Both of them are very aware of the magnitude of this competition and they don't take it lightly."

Nor should they. Where our archers are used to competing at Canadian championships in front of small crowds of friends and family who cheer politely, the Europeans spectators are quite vocal in their support of their teams. The crowd noise sometimes resembles something you'd hear at a soccer match.

"The Italians get really loud," said Allan, who hopes for a top-five performance in Denmark. "The Germans start chanting. It's definitely a new experience."


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