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European Grand Prix

The first leg of the European Grand Prix circuit took place from 4th – 9th June 2012 in Cyprus and two members of the Irish Compound Team, Éamonn Rogers and Deirdre Rogers, competed.  The competition took place in the Bishop Makario Stadium in Nicosia.  The weather was extremely hot with i intermittent breezes.  Both archers competed in the Individual Competition and then in the Mixed Doubles competition.  Éamonn qualified 16th, won his first head to head against Ioannis Agrotis and lost his second match to the number 1 seed, Christos Aerikos and finished 9th. Deirdre qualified 9th, won her first head to head against Yianna Petridou and lost in the quarter finals to the eventual winner, Pauline Burfitt of GB.
In the Mixed Doubles they lost to Matus Durny Jnr and Katarina Durna, the Slovakian team,  but improved their overall position by scoring a higher culmitive points score than the other losing teams, and finished 5th. On a lighter note, one of the other Mixed Doubles teams, the Israeli’s, got married the evening before the Mixed Doubles and came 4th in the competition.
The 2nd leg of the European Grand Prix Circuit took place from 9th – 14th July 2012 in Bulgaria, and five members of the Irish Compound Team, Robert Hall, Melanie Lawther, Éamonn Rogers, Deirdre Rogers and John Smith,competed.  John came via Cordoba where he had been competing in the World Student Games, with Darren Wallace.  All competed in the Individual matches, Éamonn, Rob and John took part in the Men’s Compound Team Event, and John and Mel took part in the Mixed Doubles.  The weather in Sofia was in the high 40’s all day, with extremely high humidity.  While the mosquitos loved the Irish, the Irish did not love either the mosquitos or the weather!  It was so hot, that the organizers had the field watered with water cannon all night, with the result that the archers were walking in inches of water all day!  They were afraid that the arrows would be damaged by the hard ground should anyone miss.
In the Individual matches John got a buy to the last 16, where he lost to Oddmund Tjentland, of Norway,  Rob and Éamonn won their first matches and then in the 16’s, Rob lost to Herian Boccali, of Italy, and Éamonn lost to Mauro Bovini of Italy,  Mel got a buy in the first round, beat Daniella Staneva in the next, and lost in a very tight semi final match to Natalia Avdeeva which meant that she was to shoot in the Bronze Medal match against the Latvian Julia Oleksejenko on Sat in the Stadium. Deirdre won her first match against Anna Kolarova and lost in the quarter finals to Anastasia Anastasio, Italy, the eventual winner.  Mixed Doubles Team saw Mel and John come up against the strong Slovanian team, Dejen Sitar and Toja Cerne, whom they beat 151 to 147, and were then in the final, due to met Italy the next day.  Rob, John and Éamonn met Norway in the semi final which went to a shoot off, having drawn with an Irish Record of 221.  They shot 29 to the Norweigans 27, and were then to meet Italy in the final the next day.
John and Mel were first of the Irish to compete on the Friday, when they met the Mixed Double Team of Sergio Pagni and Anastasia Anastasio, who were ranked No 1 in the World at that time.  Despite a strong performance by the Irish, the Italians went on to win the gold.   Next up were the Compound Team who were also shooting against the Italian Team, comprising of Sergio Pagni, Mauro Bovini and Herian Boccalli, who were ranked 7th in the World at that time. The Italians took a one point lead in the first end (56 – 55) and this was all that seperated the two teams until the last end, when the Italians greater experience showed, allowing them to pull ahead and win the gold.
Saturday morning saw the whole team in the Stadium in Sofia to support Mel who was shooting in Bronze Medal Match against Julia.  This match proved to be, without doubt, the match of the tournament, with Mel scoring a total of 148 points, two points off a perfect score, 1 point off the European Record and a New Irish Record by a considerable distance!  This score which proved the hightest score of the day, met with huge acclaim from the stand, and many congratulations.
To see the Irish Flag raised over an Archery Grounds is a great feeling, and this was the second time in three weeks that it had happened.  It was raised for Jody O’Neill, for his Gold Medal win at Stoke Manderville, and then again in Sofia for the Men’s Compound Team for their Silver Medal, Mixed Doubles for their Silver Medal and Individual Woman’s Bronze for Mel.
Thus ended possibly the most successful three weeks in the history of Irish Archery.
Article supplied thanks to Deirdre Rogers, Cuchulainn Archers