Matlock para-archer sets sights on Tokyo 2020

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A Matlock para-archer has set his sights on Tokyo 2020, having come so close to Great Britain selection for Rio in the summer.

David Bramley had only picked up a bow and arrow three years ago when he joined his local club, Derwent Bowmen, but has progressed quickly.

He has since been selected to train with fellow GB archers after taking part in a talent spotting event at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall.

And is now on the cusp of flying out to Dubai to compete in a world ranking tournament, which he hopes will be another worthwhile experience.

He said: “I’m looking forward to see if I can put into practice what I’ve learned over the past six months, where I’ve made some big jumps in my scores. The last year has been all about Rio, now we’re looking ahead to Tokyo.

“I’ve competed in a number of selection shoots for Rio and I got down to the last four competitors in my category. But unfortunately I just missed out. It was a lot further than I thought I’d get.

“The other guys in my category are really good archers and have a lot more experience than me. For me it was all about getting that experience of competing in selection events, part of my learning curve.

“At that point I was working full-time and training in evenings and weekends. I attended an academy once a month at Lilleshall. Now, since December, I train twice a week at Lilleshall as part of the talent pathway programme.”

Bramley has worked for Sheffield-based Wicker Mobility, who sell high performance wheelchairs and sportschairs, for 22 years and recently gone part-time to dedicate more time to archery.

“It was a big decision to go full-time to part-time,” he said. “We’ve still got the mortgage to pay and things like that. We had a look at it very carefully. My wife, Jeanette, went back to full-time work and she has been very supportive.

“Jeanette shoots as well. That’s how we got started really. We wanted something to do and we went to the local club at the weekend. I’ve always been interested in it, and both my wife and daughter said the same, so we went to do a beginners’ course.”

The 48-year-old is no stranger to national or international competition having represented GB in wheelchair basketball for 12 years, winning a silver medal in Atlanta 1996 - at his second of three Paralympic Games - among five European and three World Championships.

He follows other sportsmen and women who have crossed events. None more so than GB’s most decorated female Paralympian, Dame Sarah Storey, who went from swimming to cycling. And now Bramley wants to add his name to that list.

“I left a long gap in between,” he said. “I left it 16 years. I remember being in Barcelona and seeing Sarah when she was 14, when she was a swimmer, I think you can get a lot of cross-over with Paralympic sports. I just left it a long time.

“I wanted to spend time with my family. We spent a lot of time travelling and went to see the world I’d seen glimpses of when I was playing basketball.”

A keen sportsman at school, representing Derbyshire U16s in rugby, Bramley got into wheelchair basketball after a motorbike accident at the age of 17.

He said: “I broke my back. My spinal chord wasn’t completely severed it was just damaged. I can wobble around on my feet and crutches. I use my chair to shoot from because my balance isn’t good enough standing up.

“I never thought I’d get back in to competitive sport. It’s quite demanding on your time, finances, family life, the lot, it was quite nice to think I could do anything I wanted. I didn’t just stop, I played for Sheffield (club side, Sheffield Steelers) for another six more years. Then in 2006 I decided to call it a day.”

And added: “It’s been a bit of a shock getting back into it at my age. I thought it was all done with. Things have just taken a different turn and I’m back in it now. I have a UK ranking of 54th in able-bodied archery. I’ve achieved Master Bowmen grade and only Grand Master Bowmen grade to go.”

Bramley has got several competitions already planned this year before the World Championships in September in Beijing and is hoping to continue his development as the Tokyo cycle begins.

“There will be a lot of development time this year. I want to see if I can grow in my field. I am realistic about what I can achieve. Some of the things this past year have exceeded my own expectations.

“In my category there are two in the top ten and one just outside in the world. It’s going to be tough. I’m learning from them as well. They are teaching me how to compete consistently,” he added.

All those interested in sponsoring David can contact him on 07703 299031.