Couple shooting for archery gold

MICHAEL Peart has more strings to his bow than most as he is not only Ipswich Hospital's handyman, but also in the Great British archery team.

Naomi Cassidy

MICHAEL Peart has more strings to his bow than most as he is not only Ipswich Hospital's handyman, but also in the Great British archery team.

Now that the Beijing Olympics is over, he has got his sights firmly set on making it to the London 2012 Olympics and bringing a medal back to his Kesgrave home.

Mr Peart, 32, has been working as a maintenance craftsman at the hospital for the last ten years but was given lottery funding which enabled him to take a year and a half off to train full time in the run up to the Beijing games.

Although he narrowly missed out on being selected for the final GB team, he got up all hours of the night to watch his colleagues compete and is confident he will be in their place in four years' time. With only three men and three women permitted to go to the Olympics from the GB team, it will be tough to qualify.

Mr Peart said: “My coach is really keen on me going for the 2012 Olympics and I would really love to be there. The archery is taking place in the Lord's cricket ground so that would be a fantastic venue. Each year I'm getting better and better so I think I've got a good chance.”

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His love for archery began when he was at school and he got a chance to have a go. He was soon hooked and joined the Deben Archery Club, with whom he still trains with now.

He got a place on the GB archer team when he was 17 and since then, has been competing in international competitions on a regular basis.

When he is not at the hospital fixing things like operating tables or the central heating system, he is training hard at the Suffolk Showground in the summer and various sport centres in the winter.

When he returned to the hospital after being off for training, he said it was like he had never been away.

Mr Peart added: “I do like what I do. You go into a ward where there is a problem and by the time you leave, the problem is gone.

“It is very tiring to come back after work in the evening and do four hours of training. It is something you need to be prepared to put the hours in for. It is all about technique and holding your nerve on the day.”

Mr Peart is not alone in his passion for the sport as his girlfriend, Nicky Hunt, is also in the Great British team for compound archery and works at Ipswich Hospital as a physiotherapist.

Although compound archery is not recognised as an Olympic sport, she hopes to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

He added: “She is really fired up. It is great to have someone else around to motivate you.”

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FASTFACTS: Archery

- Archery was first included in the Olympic games in 1900. It was removed from the competition in 1924, and reintroduced in 1972.

- The archer's initials must be engraved on each arrow

- Archery is Bhutan's national sport

- Target archery requires good eyesight, balance and concentration

- The Deben Archery club formed in the 1950s as a target archery club, then moved to primarily field archery, finally going back to the target discipline