The Sport of Archery in the Olympic Games

download (2)Archery was not a sports event in the first ancient Olympic Games in Greece. However, the games were held for over 1,000 years, so it’s entirely possible that at some time archery was an Olympic sport in the past. Archery for men was an event for the first time in the modern Olympics in 1900. The first archery event for women was in 1904. However, there was no uniformity in the rules in those early Olympics and archery was dropped as an event after 1920. The international governing body for archery, the Federation Internationale de Tira l’Arc (FITA), was founded in 1931. It took many years before all countries accepted the new international rules for competition, but archery was able to return as an Olympic sport to the 1972 Munich Games. In 1988, team competitions were held in addition to the individual events. Since 1992, the event format is head-to-head competition for the top 64 athletes. There are four archery events: Men’s Individual, Women’s Individual, Men’s Team and Women’s Team.Individual competitors (men and women) shoot 72 arrows at a ‘bulls-eye’ target from a distance of 70 meters (229 feet, 8 inches). Each shot must be made within a 40-second time limit. A perfect score would be 720.  A ‘sudden death’ overtime shot is made in the event of a tie.Team competitions consist of 16 3-archer teams. As in the individual events, each archer shoots 72 arrows are shot at a distance of 70 meters. In a tie score, each team member will shoot one arrow. The arrow closest to the center of the target determines the winner.

Sport of Archery

The Modern Olympic Games

The modern Olympic Games, as can be seen with the London Olympics held this year, have become one of the largest special sporting events on the international calendar. But what do we know about these games from a historical point of view? With more than 200 countries now competing in the Olympics (both summer and winter games) are held biennially, with the Summer and Winter Olympic Games alternating every two years, but each event (either the summer or winter Olympics) occurs only every four years.

The Creation of the Modern Olympic Games

The first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896 and were inspired by the ancient Olympic sporting events held in Olympia, Greece, from the eights century BC to the fourth century AD. The first modern games were organized by Baron Pierre de Coubertin who also founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC). However leading up to the establishment of the modern Olympic Games there were a number of short lived attempts to establish the games before 1896, with the most well-known being. The Cotswold Olimpick Games established in 1612 in England. L’Olympiade de la République established in 1796 in Revolutionary France. Grand Olympic Festival in 1862 in the United (4)

Did you know? There are actually 4 Olympics held, the summer Olympics, the winter Olympics, the Paralympics (held for athletes with physical disabilities) and the Youth Olympics (held for the world’s top teenage athletes).

The Rituals and Symbols of the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games is a celebration of sporting prowess and encompass many rituals and symbols that have become well known in everyday modern life. Take for example the ringed symbol of the Olympics which represents each one of the world’s continents in unity, or the iconic Olympic torch that is used to fan the flames of sporting passion and daring-do. Both play an important part in the opening and closing ceremonies of the games, which themselves have become an integral and symbolic ceremony that represents everything the Modern Olympics stands for.

Did you know? Although the International Olympic Committee is responsible for choosing the host city for the Olympics, it is entirely up to that city to both fund and organize the games. This has to be done is compliance with the Olympic Charter as set out by the IOC.

The competing nations in Chamonix were hosts France, Belgium, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Canada and the United States. They took part in events such as Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Speed Skating, Figure Skating and Nordic Skiing. It was not the first time that supposed winter sports had taken place at an Olympiad. Figure Skating had been contested in the Summer Games at London (1908) and also at Antwerp (1920), and the Belgian city had also included Ice Hockey on its programme. After an International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Lausanne in 1921, there was a call for winter sports to gain parity with their summer cousins which, after much discussion, became an “International Winter Sports Week,” held in association with the Paris Summer Games, to be staged at Chamonix.

The opening ceremonies took place on January 25th and a day later the action got underway with American Charlie Jewtraw gaining success in the 500 metre speed skating event. The games however were dominated by Finland and Norway winning 28 of the 43 available medals between them. Speed skater Clas Thunberg of Finland took 3 gold medals whilst Norwegian Thorleif Haug also pocketed 3 golds for cross-country and Nordic skiing. The host nation, France, failed to win any gold medals, ending up with just 3 bronze medals (the first time this had happened in the history of the modern Olympics), whilst the USA and Great Britain won 4 medals each. Top of the medals table were Finland and Norway with 4 golds each, whilst Austria and Switzerland both won 2.

Modern Olympic Games

Amos Omolo – Uganda’s First Olympic Running Finalist

imagesUganda sprinter Amos Omolo was born on March 9, 1937 presumably in Kenya from where he is said to have migrated to Uganda for which he competed for a considerably lengthy period of time. Omolo comes through as a dedicated and excellent runner, one who competed with some of the legendary 400m world-record holders and Olympians of the 1960s and 1970s. At the Olympic Games of 1968, Amos Omolo would establish a national record in the 400m run, that would endure for 27 years. As such, Amos Omolo will forever stand out, internationally, as Uganda’s (first) premier elite runner.

At the British Commonwealth Games of 1962 held in Perth in Western Australia, held during November 22-December 1, Amos Omolo demonstrated international competence. Omolo’s bronze medal win in the 440 yards run (nearly the equivalent of the metric 400 meter-run) timed in 46.88 seconds was a photo-finishing close battle. George Kerr of Jamaica won in 46.74 seconds, and Robbie Brightwell of England came in second with in 46.86. In Bob Phillip’s Honour of Empire, Glory of Sport: the History of Athletics at the Commonwealth Games (2000: 92), it is mentioned that this was only the sixth time that bronze medalist Omolo had dabbled in this distance. Many were impressed by this African performance, a promise of spectacular African performances in the very near future. Omolo was also part of the Uganda 4x400m relay team. The others in the group were Asmani Bawala, Francis Hatega, and George Odeke. It was a prestigious presence, but the Uganda team was eighth and last in a time of 3:13.6.The only other medal won for Uganda was a bronze gathered by Benson Ishiepai who ran in the 440 yards-hurdles.

The other notable Uganda achievements at these Games were by way of boxing: a gold medal won by heavyweight George Oywello, a bronze medal won by bantamweight J.Sentongo, silver medal won by lightweight Kesi Odongo, and a bronze medal won by Francis Nyangweso. The overall 6-medals’ count was a milestone for newly politically independent Uganda. Uganda’s overall performance was 11th out of the 35 nations that competed at the Games. The leap was gigantic, compared to the lone Uganda medal won by welterweight boxer Thomas Kawere in the previous Commonwealth Games that were held in 1958 in Cardiff in Wales. In Cardiff, Uganda emerged 17th, overall out of 24 participating nations. Uganda first participated in the Commonwealth Games in 1954, held in Vancouver in Canada. Uganda’s inaugural participation resulted in a lone medal for the nation: the silver medal won by Patrick Etolu in the high jump. This was an encouraging start for Uganda, the nation placed 14th overall, out of 24 participating countries. Tokyo hosted the summer Olympics of 1964 that were opened by Emperor Hirohito on October 11, 1964. The closing ceremony took place on October 24. Amos Omolo’s relatively mediocre performance would not allow him to move on beyond the very first round. In heat 3 of the four heats, 27-year old Omolo finished 5th with a time of 47.6. All the men who had beaten Omolo were considerably younger than him. Further disappointment came in Tokyo, when the Uganda 4×100 men’s relay team consisting of Amos Omolo, Erasmus Amukun, Aggrey Awori, and James Odongo were eliminated from further contention after ending up in 6th place in the preliminary round.

The Commonwealth Games were next held in Kingston in Jamaica, during August 4-13, 1966. Uganda did not win any medals in track running, but boxers Alex Odhiambo (light-welterweight), Mathias Ouma (middleweight), and Benson Ocan (heavyweight) went back home with bronze medals. Uganda’s overall performance, compared to that registered in the previous Commonwealth Games, was lackluster. Uganda emerged 21st overall, out of 32 participating countries.

The East and Central African Athletics Championships (primarily involving Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania; and later also Zambia, Somalia, Ethiopia, and even Egypt) are normally held annually. Among Omolo’s crowning performances at these Championships were the gold medal he won in 1968, the tournament held in Tanzania’s capital Dar-es-Salaam. Omolo won in 47.6 seconds. During the 1960′s, Omolo was often part of the Uganda’s many medal victories in both the short and long relays. Amos Omolo arrived in Mexico City to represent Uganda at the Olympics held during October 12-27 in 1968, he was nearly 32 years old and he was notably Uganda’s oldest participant. His comparatively advanced age, with many of the world’s top 100m and 400m runners nearly 10 or more years younger than him, did not seem to phase Omolo’s determination.

Omolo was much less regarded in the 100m than in the 400m run. In Round One (held on October 13) of the 100m dash, Omolo was drawn in Heat 2. Surprisingly, Omolo was comparatively impressive, running in fourth (in 10.5 seconds) respectively behind legendary future world-record holder 22 year-old James Ray “Jim” Hines (10.26 seconds) of the USA, Jean-Louis Ravelomanantsoa (10.30 seconds) of Madagascar, and Gaoussou Koné (10.37 seconds) of the Ivory Coast. The four advanced to the quarter-finals’ round.

The quarter-finals were held later, on the same day of October 13. Omolo was drawn in Heat 3. Omolo was eliminated from further contention after running in 7th and timed at 10.45 seconds. The winner was Pablo Montes of Cuba (in 10.1 seconds). The three who followed, advanced to the semi-finals. They were Hartmut Schelter (10.29 seconds) of East Germany, Hideo Iijima (10.31 seconds) of Japan, and a photofinishing Gerard Fenouil (10.31 seconds) of France. The four advanced to the semi-finals.

On October 16, the Round One heats of the men’s 400 meters-dash were held. Omolo won in his heat (Heat Five), with an impressive time of 45.88 seconds. The runners who respectively finished behind him and altogether advanced to the next (quarter-finals) round were Munyoro Hezekiah Nyamau (45.91 seconds) of Kenya, Jean-Claude Nallet (45.93 seconds) of France, and Hellmar Muller (45.98 seconds) of West Germany.

Uganda's Running Finalist