Archery star Paterson Pine says life-changing Paralympic gold yet to sink in

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Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Archery - Women's Individual Compound - Open Gold Medal – Yumenoshima Archery Field, Tokyo, Japan - August 30, 2021. Phoebe Paterson Pine of Britain celebrates after winning gold REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Phoebe Paterson Pine celebrates her gold

Paralympic archer Phoebe Paterson Pine admits she’s yet to fully comprehend how her whirlwind Tokyo summer changed her life forever, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton.

The Cheltenham ace took home the gold in the women’s individual compound event at this summer’s Paralympic Games with a sensational performance.

But considering she was only a last-minute call-up for the flight to Japan, it is perhaps no surprise her achievement may take a while to sink in.

And as Paterson Pine, 23, reveals, she had no expectations whatsoever going into her first Games.

“Just making the Games for me, and being able to say I had the spot and ‘I’m going to the Paralympics’, I was happy enough with that,” said Paterson Pine, who is one of over 1,000 athletes who are able to train full-time, access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding.

“To come home and just say ‘I’m a Paralympian’ is amazing in itself.

“Really the goal has been go to Tokyo and get the experience I need. It was my first time round and I just thought about enjoying it.

“I didn’t have any expectations for myself and I feel like that helped me. Away from competing I kept myself busy with knitting. 

“Going into the final I just thought: ‘I’ve got this far, I just need to keep going,’ and that is what got to me to end up with a gold medal.”

It is hard enough for some Paralympians and Olympians to compete against their own countrymen or women at a Games. 

Paterson Pine had the challenge of not only taking on fellow Brit and world No.1 Jessica Stretton. 

Matters were made even more complicated as the two are not only teammates – but best friends.

In their second elimination round clash, Paterson Pine won by 141-140.

And she added: “I was worried about going home on my own [due to athletes needing to leave within 48 hours of finishing competing], but knew if I won my first knockout match, that wouldn’t be the case.

“I thought that would be the toughest part, then it hit me I was up against Jess. Jess is such a wonderful soul - she is the nicest person.

“And we’re so equally matched against one another. There was one point between us when it really could have gone either way.

“But she was incredibly supportive and so nice about it. As soon as knew I had won I said ‘I’m so sorry’.

“It was incredibly hard having to take out a teammate to win a medal, but that is sport.”

Although that result led to mixed emotions, it gave her the belief needed as she went on to beat Mariana Zuniga in the final.

The Gloucestershire star was one of 41 athletes to bring back Paralympic gold for Great Britain this summer. 

But for Paterson Pine, the real reward since returning to British soil is making up for lost time with her family. 

“It has been a whirlwind since returning from Tokyo. I haven’t really stopped,” added Paterson Pine, whose medal was one of more than 1,000 Olympic and Paralympic achieved by British athletes since National Lottery funding to elite sport started in 1997.

“I’ve obviously done more media now than I have ever done before in my whole career. But that has been a great learning curve.

“It has not only been great for my learning, but also just to get my sport out there as well. Archery is such a niche sport, so I’ve been able to give it a boost in this country, which is great to see.

“I have been busy seeing family and that is nice. After five years of training constantly, it has been great to actually spend some time together. 

“For me, that is almost as much of a reward as the gold medal.”

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