I was given the opportunity to talk to Lucy O'Sullivan about the ups, downs, challenges and opportunities of being an archer locked down on her home island, Jersey.
Lucy O'Sullivan is easily recognisable as one of Great Britain's longest-standing competitive archers, as well as an established personal trainer and sportswoman.
This weekend at the TRUBall Axcel Back to Back will be the first tournament Lucy has done outside of Jersey for around twenty-two months. The last shoot she did abroad was the 2020 World Indoor Cup stage at Vegas.
¬"Psychologically the lockdown has been awful. I'm not sure how I managed to survive.¬†It's been so hard not being able to compete," Lucy told us. "People have been leaving Jersey if they've been double vaccinated, but the media has made it feel as if you can't leave. There's so much scaremongering.¬Ē
Before the pandemic, Lucy was competing in archery and also working as a personal trainer. This all changed when COVID hit and Jersey was forced to close its borders.
¬"I lost my sport, and I lost my job at the beginning. With everything that was going on, Tom (Lucy's boyfriend) closed the gym. So, I was working on the phone with people during the lockdown. I moved the gym equipment to my mum's house to work from there. It's honestly been so unsettling, especially not having my sport too.¬Ē
Even though travelling resumed in recent months, the cost of coming over to the UK to shoot is almost unreachable given the lack of work as a result of the pandemic.
"It's been a year when we had the last big lockdown in the winter, and I've been trying to grasp at threads since then. For some kind of normality. It was the UK Masters recently, and after losing my job, I can't afford it. It's costing me almost up to ¬£350 to come over this weekend for the TRUball Axcel Back to Back. The job insecurity has meant that I can't do my sport, and I feel like I've missed out.¬Ē
Despite these pitfalls, Lucy was able to find new passions and use the lockdown period productively.
"This has been a beautiful place to be locked down, and I am very lucky. I went to the beach everyday with friends, I bought a paddle board. I've been trying to do different challenges."
Lucy also spent a lot of time making videos for Archery GB's Workout Wednesday segment, and she said she was honoured to be asked to take part.
¬"Coaching is my passion.¬†Teaching people... I love it. I don't just coach people in the gym, I also coach people to become coaches as well. These videos have given me a chance to be really creative. Tom was filming the workouts which gave use something to do. I'm so pleased that they reached people and were watched."
The videos have not only been enjoyed by many archers from GB, but from other countries too. As a result of making the workouts, Lucy has been asked to talk to the juniors from the Australian national team. It's been important to her that archers feel like they can be fit and strong even when the gyms weren't open for everyone.
For Lucy, these videos also posed as a brilliant way to send out an important message to athletes from other sports, not just to archers.
¬"I want the world to know, not just Britain, that archery is a sport. We are athletes," Lucy said. "I hate that other sports don't think about us.¬†Hopefully, the videos get our sport more noticed. I want people to see us as athletes. Our sport is in the Olympics, I know compound isn't, but we're still just as important."
Lucy has a degree in coaching and sport science, which fuelled her love for her job. As well as her coaching job, Lucy has been working for the BBC in Jersey as a sports reporter on Saturdays. For the warm-ups for the Workout Wednesday videos, Lucy looked at lots of different sports, including swimming, gymnastics, triathlon and shooting.
"These sports all have sport scientists that do warm-ups for them. Archery doesn't have this, or anyone who's done a dissertation on archery warm-ups. The fact that I can make these videos accessible to people via youtube is crazy."
A recent change Lucy made was to change her business name from 'Lucy O'Sullivan Personal Training' to 'Strength by Lucy', as a way to promote the importance to being strong.
"I am so much for women being strong. Other coaches have said they wouldn't let women train with weights because they could get bulky. It's up to coaches to change this attitude. Archers should be strong, we're pulling and holding really heavy bows. People would often say I have 'man shoulders'. No, that's just being strong."
In terms of preparation and training for the Back to Back event, Lucy is one of the few archers still having to brave the winter weather.
"I'm still shooting outdoors. There are two archery clubs in jersey that have been doing very well, they've been open as long as they could, and they've been doing their bit. Unfortunately, their shooting times have been on days I coach," Lucy said.¬†"I just can't wait to shoot this weekend, I can't wait to see people.¬Ē
To follow Lucy's progress, as well as the other archers¬†shooting at the Back to Back and the Indoor Nationals, keep an eye out for updates on Archery GB's social media pages and on Ianseo (https://www.ianseo.net/Details.php?toId=9399).
Facebook: Strength By Lucy - LOSPT
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