This year, Phoebe Paterson Pine made her Paralympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where she came away with a Gold medal in the Women’s Individual Compound Open in archery. Since arriving back from Tokyo, Phoebe was part of the audience of The Last Leg and she attended the ParalympicsGB Homecoming Concert at The SSE Arena. In the lead-up to Tokyo 2020, Phoebe competed at the European Continental Qualification Tournament and the Para-Archery World Ranking Tournament, both of which were held in the Czech Republic, and in 2019, she competed at the World Archery Para Championships with the team winning Silver. Before transitioning to senior level, Phoebe also had a successful junior career in archery. On her return from the Games, Phoebe talked to us about making her Paralympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, winning Gold in the Women’s Individual Compound Open in archery and her Team Silver win at the World Archery Para Championships in 2019.
How did it feel winning Gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the Women’s Individual Compound Open in archery?
Winning Gold was such a surreal moment for me, I couldn’t really read my emotions particularly or had a feel that stood out to me, I was just in sheer shock that I had done it. I cried a lot because of the shock I think as well. After I had settled and was back at the athlete’s village, I felt more elated from my performance and had a surge of confidence going through my body knowing that I had achieved that as well.
What was the experience like staying in the athlete’s village and competing at your Paralympic debut?
I absolutely adored the athlete’s village; it was such a lovely atmosphere around the ParalympicsGB tower and everyone was so supportive of one another even if they didn’t know them or their sport. You would always chat to people in the lifts and ask them what their sport is and where they’re from as well, everyone was just so nice! The food hall was my favourite part of the athlete’s village, there was just such a wide range of food to have and I loved that I was able to try new cuisines as well.
Do you have any stand-out memories from your time in Tokyo?
I very vividly remember our move in day to the athlete’s village, I was so excited to see what the rooms were going to be like and check out the cardboard beds that had picked up so much media interest as well, I can assure you they’re nowhere near as cool as they look, they are just standard beds! But upon entering our rooms, our team staff had put up posters for us and had given us written letters for us to read to boost us.
How was it being in the audience for The Last Leg and attending the ParalympicsGB Homecoming Concert?
I really appreciate the experience that I had when I went onto The Last Leg, the production team were the nicest people going as were Alex (Brooker), Adam (Hills) and Josh (Widdicombe)! It was so much fun and I loved that we as athletes were there to celebrate our achievements. The ParalympicsGB Homecoming Ceremony was also a lot of fun, it was great to see all of ParalympicsGB again both staff and athletes! And again, it was lovely for us as a team to be celebrated for our achievements, we came home with 124 medals overall, 41 Golds in particular, Team GB won 67 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
In the lead-up to the Paralympics, you competed at the European Continental Qualification Tournament and Para-Archery World Ranking Tournament, both of which were held in the Czech Republic, how were these?
The quota tournament in the Czech Republic was incredibly stressful for me, the uncertainty of how the competition was going to go weighed upon me a lot, I knew I could only control what I could control but I wanted so desperately to do well. The quota tournament itself was very small, I had a total of three matches over the course of the morning, one of which was against a fellow teammate, sadly. Over the morning, I was able to stick to my processes and my shot routine and win every match I was in, I’ve worked really hard on my mental approach to competition and this really helped me out that day.
Were you able to continue training during the pandemic and how was it returning to competitions?
We as a sport are very lucky that we are able to train outside and at short distance too, so although I was unable to shoot at home during the pandemic, I was able to use dumbbells and band work to workout daily and then eventually, when we were able to go outdoors, we as archers were able to get back to our sport and continue training. Myself as an elite athlete was also able to train under the elite athlete dispensation act created by the government, which I am very grateful for, people sometimes struggle to understand that the sports that we do are essentially our jobs, so to miss work just like any other worker across the country is hard.
Can you tell us about winning Team Silver at the World Archery Para Championships in 2019?
I am very lucky to shoot alongside two of the best compound women open in the world so winning Silver at the World Championships was a big achievement for all of us. We performed to the best of our abilities and were able to medal and come away with a new European record as well.
What were some of your favourite competitions from youth level and how different did you find the sport when transitioning to senior?
My favourite competition to have done as a junior was the Outdoor Junior World Championships, this being because I wasn’t expected to go to such a prestigious able-bodied event and so it was a big achievement for me.
Going from junior level to senior level is a big step in any archer’s career, however, we as a sport have some incredibly talented archers in both the senior and junior categories so score levels tend not to differ too greatly.
Do you have any other career highlights and favourite memories from competing in archery since starting out?
A competition that sticks with me is the Berlin Open where I competed in 2019 and was able to set a new World Record of 147/150 for a 15-arrow match. The competition was really well-run and my first indoor competition representing GB.
In 2016, I was also able to go to the Rio Paralympic Games as part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme created by ParalympicsGB. This enabled me to experience the atmosphere and running of a Games without competing and gave me invaluable insight into the happenings of a Games. I truly believe that this helped me in Tokyo.
Your archery career takes you around the world for competitions, how do you find the experience?
I personally do not like flying so going to international events is always a slightly stressful experience for me. However, once I’m there I love experiencing new cultures and trying to learn some of the languages.
How did you get into archery and is it something you always wanted to do?
I started archery in 2012, after trying it on a family holiday. Shooting a bow just felt natural to me and that feeling made me want to pursue it. Prior to this experience, I had never thought about archery or wanted to try it, but I am grateful that I found the sport.
What do you feel you’ve learnt over the years as an archer?
Going through my teenage years in the sport I have learnt organisational skills in order to balance all the hours of training whilst staying on top of my studies. I have also learnt time management and learnt to be strict with myself when I would have to stop training to go and study.
Ever since I was eleven years old, I was bullied because of my disability. Being in archery, and being able to excel, has given me self-worth and confidence I never used to have. Archery gives me an escape from a bad day and enables me to succeed at something when others have always told me I’d never be able to. My natural resilience has given me the ability to overcome adversity in the sport so even when I don’t perform well, I’m able to continue to work hard to improve.
What do you enjoy doing away from your career?
I like dinosaurs. I have a real interest in palaeontology and geology so I enjoy reading articles about dinosaur discoveries. I’m also into knitting but I’m nowhere near as good as Tom Daley.
Do you have any competitions or events coming up that you are currently in training for or are targeting in the next year?
I have a World Championships in February that I am working towards currently but aside from that Paris 2024 is the next big goal.
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