Canadian archers aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games took part in a five-day training camp during a lockdown. Tough restrictions are in place across Canada as the country battles to curb surging coronavirus cases, hampering athletes’ preparations for the rescheduled Games.

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But Archery Canada said it received an exemption from the Government of Ontario to enable the team to hold a camp in the Cambridge and Kitchener area at the end of January. Thirteen athletes and four support staff attended the camp which was held under strict health and safety protocols.

According to Archery Canada, the process included a “lengthy pre-camp routine” involving two separate COVID-19 tests in the space of four days ahead of the event.

“We are grateful for the privilege of being able to prepare for the Olympics while in lockdown,” said Alan Brahms, high-performance advisor for Archery Canada.

This was made possible by establishing sophisticated hygiene and safety protocols and a close-knit testing and monitoring system. The support of many different parties and partners, including the financial support of the Government of Canada, and the support of the public health authority, the City of Cambridge, the Region of Waterloo, the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, the YMCA, the ComDev training facility, and the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario was tremendous.”

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Crispin Duenas remains the only Canadian archer to have booked his place at the Olympics in the men’s individual recurve after winning gold at the 2019 Pan American Games. Canada’s women’s recurve team are currently preparing for the Olympic qualification tournament, scheduled to be held in Mexico from March 21 to 29.

“Under the conditions, this was anything but a normal training camp for our group,” said Shawn Riggs, Canada’s recurve coach.

I am glad to see how everyone executed our protocols and demonstrated collective accountability to keep our environment protected. We must prepare ourselves as best as possible for the year ahead and this was a key component of that preparation and we learned a lot.

“From a competitive point of view, we saw some strong results and had four men over 670 and six men over 660, which is something we have not seen.

It is an indicator that we are building a broader group in the men’s team, which can be competitive at the world level. Although our arrow average in match and team round play was not quite where it needed to be, it was a good assessment of where our men’s team is positioned coming out of a month’s long environment that saw restricted training opportunities.

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Virginie Chenier, who was one of four women to take part in the camp, said she benefitted from the event after coming through quarantine. While Mariessa (Pinto) and myself had to manage through intra-provincial travel and an additional four-day quarantine in the hotel before the start, this was a great opportunity for the four women to come together to compete and also just to train with a larger group, said Chenier.

Everybody has been missing this, and once everybody received their second test result, we were able to somewhat get back to normal over five days of quality training and competing. Canada Archery is set to stage a men’s selection camp this month and in March before the Archery World Cup is scheduled to start in Guatemala in April.

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