Rogan Cunningham, a Compound Cadet archer from Ireland, told us his highlights from the Youth Festival 2019.
Myself and Team Ireland travelled to Lilleshall for the 2019 Youth Festival. It was incredibly exciting to be travelling and competitions Internationally. In 2018, I competed at the Youth Festival but I was only just getting into archery and my performance last year wasn't great. I was determined this year to do much better, and I certainly did.
We had leave very early on the Sunday morning and shoot our qualifiers on arrival, I think the adrenaline kept me going. The rain was relentless on the first day however, it seems to suit me as I shot a PB and qualified fifth in the category.
This year the team all stayed on-site at Lilleshall, which I found really good. It meant I could practice in the evening without the pressure of having to leave for a hotel.
Day 2 was really great as the sun was shining and the eliminations got under way. I progressed through the eliminations, and suddenly realised that I had got through to the individual finals Bronze match on the Friday. I was thrilled.
I didn't have another Compound Cadet Team member so I was paired with Lucy Mason for the International Team event in the Junior category, and we won the Bronze medal. It was so fantastic not only to have won a medal, but to be able to shoot with people of this level.
The next day, we were involved in some team events. Unfortunately myself and my team mate were knocked out but it gave me the opportunity to support my team members in their matches.
On the Friday morning, I was up early and out on the practice field warming up for my individual Bronze medal match. I was very nervous but also very excited. This was to be my first time on a finals field. It was an excellent experience to be in the Orangery and I was so proud to be there. I shot well, but Thomas Lane shot better! Last year I was so disappointed at my performance, but this year I gave it my all and was able to go home with my head held high.
The whole Youth Festival Experience is fantastic for young archers as it allows you to get used to the competition process. And the consolation matches gives everyone an opportunity to continue on even if you are knocked out of the main play early on. It is a superb opportunity to shoot as a team member.
So, to sum up, I had the most amazing time at the Archery GB Youth Festival this year. I made some new friends who I hope to be able to shoot against again in the future and to top it all off I returned home with a medal. I would definitely recommend the festival to any young archers for next year.
I would like to thank Archery GB for such a well run competition and I am really looking forward to travelling to the European Youth Championships, to be held in Lilleshall in 2020.