Banbridge’s spot as a hot-bed of archery talent was underlined again last weekend.
That’s because up-and-coming international stars Rebecca Lennon and Craig McCreery got a positive result in Poland, bringing back three European Field Championships medals for Team GB.
Craig picked up a bronze in the junior men’s barebow section while also helping to claim silver in the team event. Rebecca, meanwhile, won bronze in the Compound Junior Women section, pipping fellow local girl Morgan Russell-Cowan into fourth.
“It’s a really great feeling,” said Craig after claiming the latest success in his budding career.
“Last year I went to the worlds and got a gold and a silver but my individual performances weren’t as good as this year so this has been an even more satisying weekend for me.
“It’s great to go over there and compete with people who are at the same level and see how the international guys are shooting and what they’re doing.”
Also shooting were fellow Banbridge archers Dean Hamilton and Mark Nesbitt. Neither, however, could add to the medal table as Dean could finished sixth in the Compound Junior Men section while Mark ranked 12th in the Men’s Recurve.
“Being part of Team GB is great because everybody is so supportive and there’s a really good atmosphere,” said Craig, who is already turning his attention to next year’s World Field Archery Championships, taking place in Bray.
“I’d love to do well in that because it would be really nice to do it in front of friends and family in a home tournament,” he said.
Fellow medal winner Rebecca, meanwhile, is focused on November’s British Indoor Championships after what has been a sterling summer.
“The plan now is to get Rebecca into the senior team within the next 18 months,” said her dad Damien. “She has a lot of positive things going for her and this performance really just proves that she can consistently perform to that level.”
Damien is even hoping that Rebecca, whose weekend scores compared favourably against those of the Team GB senior ladies in the compound discipline, could compete at Olympic level.
“The big goal for Rebecca is to get to the Olympics in 2024 because we’re hoping her style of archery will be brought into the Games that year. We’re also hopeful that compound archery will be brought back into the Commonwealth Games so that she can fly the flag for Northern Ireland.
“There has to be a lot of hard work put in so the young archers have to decide what’s important to them,” concluded NI Junior Team Manager Damien.
Rebecca had to contend with upheaval at club level before the weekend’s Championships as her Ballyvally Archery Club membership was discontinued after a parent was involved in setting up another club, Yew Tree Archers in Newry.
The club maintained the rule which prevents children from being members of Ballyvally if their parents are affiliated with or shooting at another club was for health and safety reasons.
“It was all a bit unsavoury and it didn’t need to happen,” said Damien. “The timing was very sad but Rebecca’s home with a bronze medal now and that’s the important thing.”