A fish out of water

24 July 2012

ARCHERY: A golden boy of the pool, Kieren Perkins is a household name in Australia and his historic sporting feats in the 1500m freestyle are entrenched in our sporting folklore.

After wrapping up his Olympic campaign in Sydney 2000, Perkins has returned to the Australian team 12 years on, but this time he has swapped the speedos for the tracksuit in his new role as Athlete Liaison Officer (ALO).  As the mentor to Australian athletes from ten different Olympic sports at these Games, it is a position that the 38-year-old is flourishing in.

Yesterday, Perkins paid a visit to Lords Cricket Ground, where our two young archers – Elisa Barnard and Taylor Worth – were busy training ahead of their opening ranking round this Friday, 27 July.

For these two Olympic debutants who are soaking up the entire Olympic experience, the advice and guidance which Perkins can provide is invaluable.

“Coming from the Olympic environment, being able to talk to Kieren who has been in this situation on multiple occasions, it’s been really good,” said Worth. “He’s given me a few things to think about for the future.”

“I asked him when he knew it was time to stop. And he said it was because he didn’t have any more questions to ask himself. It’s given me things to think about and work on for the future. I was thinking about having a break after these Games, but now I don’t want to stop shooting, I want to keep going and see how far I can go.”

For Perkins it is an ever changing role, dealing with different sports, personalities and scenarios.

“By and large (my role) involves trying to keep a bit of calm amongst the athletes so they can focus on what matters most. There’s a lot going on and it’s pretty exciting around here. Everyone gets a bit nervous and a bit worked up. We’re the relaxed third party that can come in, share a joke and calm people down and keep them on the job.”

Barnard and Worth were more than happy to hand over their bows to Perkins who gave the sport a test run. Surprised at the weight of the bows, Perkins was in admiration of the physical and mental strength required.

“Elisa's wasn’t too heavy, but Taylor’s was crazy,” continued Perkins who was fascinated by the sport and its technical equipment. “How they can actually draw it, and hold it, and aim it and then calmly let it go... is pretty impressive.“

Michelle Cook
Olympics.com.au

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