Norfolk’s Mel Clarke has sights on Paralympic full set

Norfolk's Mel Clarke (right) and Danielle Brown in the Paralympics archery final. Norfolk's Mel Clarke (right) and Danielle Brown in the Paralympics archery final.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012
12:33 PM

Norfolk’s Mel Clarke fluffed her lines on her final arrow to miss out on Paralympic gold yesterday – and admits the opportunity to complete her set could inspire her to carry on until Rio.

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The individual compound archer took on her compatriot and reigning champion Danielle Brown in an all-British London 2012 final and the pair did not disappoint with an exhilarating encounter.

In the end it all came down to the 29-year-old from Taverham’s final arrow, where a score of ten would give her the gold, nine would lead to a single arrow shoot-off, and any less would give Brown the title.

Unfortunately for Clarke she produced her worst arrow of the final, hitting a seven, to go down 6-4 and had to settle for adding silver to the bronze she won in Beijing four years ago.

And while Clarke refused to commit to competing at a third Games in Rio the opportunity to upgrade silver to gold could prove too strong a lure to ignore.

“I’ve got a bronze and I’ve got a silver so the only thing left is a gold so never say never for Rio,” she said. “There are four years before then, I’m not saying no and not saying yes but the buzz of the Paralympics is incredible and there is still a gold medal to be won so you might see me out there.

“I didn’t know what score I had to hit for the final arrow, I just knew it had to be a good shot.

“A silver is fantastic, to go one better than I did in Beijing, and in front of family and friends as well, it’s amazing.”

Clarke had beaten eventual bronze medallist and the winner of the test event Stepanida Artakhinova in the semi-final in emphatic style 6-0.

She and Brown then produced a masterclass in the final, and Clarke revealed that even her experience in Beijing could not compare.

She added: “It’s different because family and friends were here to experience it with me.

“It wasn’t like Beijing where I told friends at three in the morning on the phone what had happened.

“To share it with them and see their reaction is brilliant. I had about 60 or 70 friends and family in the crowd supporting me. I shot really well all day and I’m so proud of that and in the end it came down to the last arrow. To be that close was brilliant.”

Brown, from West Yorkshire, said the success meant more to her than her Beijing triumph.

“I’ve been really feeling the pressure the last couple of weeks, so to actually come here and manage to keep my head in the right place, I’m chuffed to bits,” said the 24-year-old law graduate.

“It’s been crazy. I didn’t think it would have affected me the way it has. My whole family and friends were out there watching me. It was just incredible – I was shaking so much.”

Artakhinova claimed bronze with a 7-3 defeat of her team-mate Lyzhnikova.

Iran’s Zahra Nemati won the women’s individual recurve-W1/W2 gold medal with a 7-3 win over Elisabetta Mijno of Italy. China’s Li Jinzhi won bronze with a 6-4 defeat of Veronica Floreno of Italy.

In the women’s individual recurve-standing final, China’s Yan Huilian claimed a 6-4 win over South Korea’s Lee Hwa-sook. Bronze was won by Milena Olszewska of Poland, who beat Mongolia’s Javzmaa Byambasuren 6-2.

n Lloyds TSB, proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and proud partner of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Get closer to the Games at lloydstsb.com/london2012

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