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Patrick Huston sets target on a fast start for Team GB

Aiming high: Ulsterman Patrick Huston will be the first member of Team GB in action at the Rio Olympics and he intends to bring home a medal
Aiming high: Ulsterman Patrick Huston will be the first member of Team GB in action at the Rio Olympics and he intends to bring home a medal

By Steven Beacom

Patrick Huston knows all about hitting targets. He's been doing it for years in his chosen sport of archery. As a teenager the talented Belfast boy set himself the ambitious goal of competing in the Olympics. Aged just 20, that dream will become a reality in Rio next week.

And in keeping with this feelgood story, the former Campbell College pupil, who enjoyed drama at school, will play an historic role in this year's Games.

On Friday week, Huston is scheduled to be the first member of Team GB to compete in the 2016 version of the greatest show on earth when he lines up for the men's individual archery event and to complete an unforgettable day, after his morning work Patrick plans to attend the opening ceremony in Rio's Olympic Stadium later that night.

The eyes of the British team will be on Huston on August 5 but rather than be daunted by the prospect, the cool, calm and confident multiple junior world champion is embracing the challenge.

"I am the first Briton competing at this year's Olympics and I'm proud of that," says Patrick, who will become one of Northern Ireland's youngest ever Olympians having taken up archery as an eight-year-old under the guidance of ex-British longbow champion Aud Needham.

"I'll be competing in what is called the qualifying round on the morning of August 5 and then will be able to go to the opening ceremony later on.

"I want to start well for Team GB and get a positive mood going for the team straight away."

The qualifying round essentially acts as a seeding process and determines who the 64 competitors will meet in the head to head rounds which follow. The trick is to score well, rank high and avoid the big hitters until later on.

"In the early rounds you need to avoid the Koreans who are the best in the world," says Huston.

"If I can get in the top 20 in the qualifying round, that will give me a shout of a medal. That's what I'm going there for.

"A lot of people may think a medal is not realistic but the greater the pressure the better I perform.

"I love the head to head contests. They are intense and the fun part of archery. It is a great dynamic for our sport and brings out the best in me.

"It does mean a few bad arrows and your Olympics could be over in the space of a few minutes but I love the drama of it all. Maybe that comes from me doing drama and acting when I was younger."

Proud parents Adrian and Felicity and Patrick's brother Alex will be in Rio cheering him on while back home there will also be plenty of support for the East Belfast Archery Club member, now based in Telford in England.

"I booked my ticket to Rio in May when there were 96 people competing with only three places up for grabs but my mum and dad had already sorted their trip out in February. It was nice for them to have that confidence in me," said the Snow Patrol fan.

"My brother is also going over and I will have lots of people backing me at home which is fantastic. I've had messages of support from my granny's knitting group, my old school, Assisi Animal Sanctuary in Conlig where I'm a Youth Ambassador and my friends and other family members.

"I also know that people involved in archery in Northern Ireland want me to do well and if by competing in the Olympics I can inspire children at home to take up the sport that would be brilliant."

Patrick, who flies out to Brazil tomorrow after competing in Germany, Turkey and Romania over the last month, has his own novel way of feeling inspired.

He reveals: "Since my first victory in 2010 I have kept loads of memorabilia and I have just finished putting everything up on my wall.

"It is a graphic representation of what I have achieved so far including scoresheets from lots of different events I have competed in.

"If I ever have any doubts I look at the scoresheets and recall how I was feeling at the time and how I coped with the situation. It is an inspiration to me to show how far I have come," he explains.

The one time Belfast Telegraph Young Sports Star of the Year adds: "I'm really looking forward to everything about the Olympics. When my competition finishes I should be there for 10 more days before the closing ceremony. Having just finished reading Sir Chris Hoy's book I want to go and see some cycling as well as athletics and the beach volleyball. Most of all though I'm relishing competing at the Olympics. That experience should be something else."

Belfast Telegraph


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