It's time to introduce you to another of our brilliant new junior ambassadors, letting them tell their story in their own words of who they are, what they love and why they chose to become an Archery GB ambassador. This month, we hear from Marjan Abdelfattah.
Since I was really young, I was interested in archery. I used to ask for toy bows as presents whenever I could. When I was in Egypt, where I am originally from, the sport centre near where I lived was having a beginner course. My family and I joined the course and went on to shoot for the two months we were there. I quickly fell in love with the sport and wanted to continue shooting when we went back to Saudi Arabia after the summer was over.
I was very inspired by watching Brave, which is one of my favourite Disney films. I wanted to be able to experience the freedom that Merida felt in the movie when she held her bow and let go of the string, allowing the perfect arrow to hit her target.
I continued shooting in Saudi with my brothers and friends, which led me to enjoy friendly competitions between teammates. By the summer of 2018, we had moved to Northern Ireland and quickly found a club nearby – City of Belfast Archers – where I was able to meet my current coaches and teammates for the first time.
Shortly after I was invited to join the National Talent Development Program where I had an amazing time and it allowed me to meet archers my age who also wanted to do archery at a higher level. I joined the Performance Academy alongside my younger brother, who inspired me to stay ahead through competitions and give it my all. The Academy showed me a whole new level of archery that is both fun and competitive.
In 2021, I represented Northern Ireland for the first time at the Youth Festival as part of a team in the Home Nations match. My teammate and I came back with the bronze medal. My second Youth Festival took me by surprise as I walked away with three gold medals. It was my last year as a cadet shooting at 60m, and I won the gold medal for the Youth Commonwealth. My second gold medal was for the Under 18 Mixed Teams, as team ‘Pikachu’, and the last was in the Under 18 Recurve Individual Women. While I came back very happy and had lots of new experiences, I also had an even greater love for competitions. It would not have been possible without the support I got from my coaches, family and friends.
For me, archery is as much as a giving sport as it is receiving. As an ambassador I really want to give back what I was able to receive. In the 2022 Schools Cup, I was able to do that for a short time by helping new archers representing their schools with their form and shooting so they could improve their score. My younger sister is taking up archery and I am trying to do my best to help her when she is shooting next to me or by using bands to practice at home every now and then.
Now I’m 18 and shooting 70m in the Under 21 category. I am a member of Lisburn City Archery Club and have just finished my last year of school doing my A-levels, which were just as much of a challenge!
I am looking forward to this new chapter as a junior and as an ambassador and I will give it my all trying to improve and help as much as I can. As a Muslim woman myself I would love to be able to not only help Muslims but people of all ages to see how great and welcoming archery is. I hope to see more people take it up and pursue archery as the sport of their choice.