OK, my title only makes some sense if you know the tune for the long-running BBC Radio Four series, 'The Archers' and is my way of introducing the topic of this post. My son Ruy, the Archer!
You may remember a recent post I wrote, where we had eventually found a club for Ruy to join to practice his archery
on a regular basis and he went for the first time at the very end of August. And the club members were impressed with his skill and immediately said he must enter the competition at the end of September for Champion of Andalucia. This was quite a surprise and a great motivator for Ruy.
The following week, he wasn't able to practice because we went up to Valladolid for a week, but as soon as we could, I took him back for another practice morning and again the following week. I rather like getting up early on Sunday mornings, dropping Ruy off at the club, have a chat with the (mainly) men there before going to 'my' bar for a cup of wonderful coffee and a typical Spanish breakfast of toast with tomatoes and olive oil....SO delicious!
But I digress. So after three weeks of practice and some great support from Virgilio, the teacher, (who is just a whisper away from 80 years old and as lean and fit as a man half his age,) Ruy suddenly had a licence to carry a bow, was a member of a club and enrolled to take part in the XVII Campeonata de Andalucia (for 3D forest archery, not just targets). Very exciting.
The week before the championship was a week of overcast skies and sudden showers of rain - the first since May really - and the forecast for the Sunday was 'not good'. And we had to get up at 6am to arrive in time for the start at 8,30am. Goodness, these archers are keen! Romy decided to go and stay with a friend on Saturday night rather than get up to go and watch....but Mateo was good to go and so we four set off in the dark wondering what on earth we were going to.
My plan had been to see Ruy off on the course and then retreat to my favourite bar - I hadn't had a coffee in the morning with this specific intention in mind....How silly I was! There were around 60 contestants in the overall competition and just 5 in the Junior category...including the Champion of Spain, no less, so the competition for the Junior title was going to be tough. But enough words, the rest can be told in pictures, more or less!
|This is the terrain....a tough route where 24 models of animals were patiently waiting to be shot at...|
|Not easy walking either...|
|And somehow, my plan of sloping off for a coffee just didn't work out. Once the shooting started, I couldn't get back to the club house safely...This is Ruy's group heading for their first target.|
|Which turned out - rather unexpectely - to be a penguin...(this is the marker, not the target!)|
|Ruy's first shots turned out to be pretty well on target - and he was off to a good start.|
|The boy in the foreground is the current champion of Spain and he was really very good.|
|Not easy to spot, but there is a deer in the middle right of the picture that is the target here.|
|Aiming for another horned creature, there between the trees|
And so it went - for 24 different animals and two and a half hours (and no coffee) - and it just began to rain as we completed all the targets. The Champion of Spain had beaten Ruy and Ruy had beaten the other boy in his group but we didn't know how the other Juniors had done yet. Nor did we know that the competition wasn't over...not by a long way!
Back at the club house, with well-earned sandwiches and drinks all round, we found out that Ruy was lying in 3rd place and now the semi-finals would take place. A shoot off between 1st and 4th places and between 2nd and 3rd places.
And as the competitors were asked to move to the targets, the rain really began to come down in earnest and I decided to stay put. FR and Mateo bravely went off to support Ruy and hold the umbrella for him as he took aim.
And Ruy won the shoot off...but it still wasn't over!
In the other semi-final, the boy who was lying in 4th place, beat the champion.
This seemed a bit unfair to me, but apparently, this is how all the championships go, so I guess the Champion already knew what might happen.
And so the final was between Ruy and Dani!
And it was so very close - with Ruy finishing with an amazing shot from the top of a rock at the club house, down towards a large mountain goat, which he hit perfectly, but which didn't quite get him the title of Champion of Andalucia, but got him the honour of 'Sub' Champion! On his first ever attempt. He was exhausted but delighted....and we were too.
|Here he is with Guillermo, on the left in front of him, and Virgilio in the middle in front of him - the two men who have really encouraged and helped him and who were very, very pleased with his achievement. |
|All four finalists - all excellent archers, from Malaga, Granada, Jaen and Seville.|
And after the presentations, the final team competition was cancelled as the rain was so heavy that no one could see to shoot - so we all ate an amazingly good paella that the good womenfolk had been preparing in the club house. Very welcome, very hot and really delicious!
|I couldn't resist taking this - all the other animals were taken away but for some reason, the penguin was left, all alone - and doesn't he look miserable! Perhaps he had missed his morning coffee too..|
Well done Ruy! It's been a gradual process, this archery thing, but we all knew you had talent. Next stop - well, Champion of Spain wouldn't be too big a target, would it?