One day after being snubbed for inclusion in the programme for Birmingham 2022, archery served up Great Britain’s first gold medal at the European Games in Minsk.
Four-time Olympian Naomi Folkard joined team-mates Bryony Pitman and Sarah Bettles to beat hosts Belarus 6-2 in the final at the city’s Olympic Sports Complex.
It was another success for the trio, who had won world bronze in ‘s-Hertogenbosch only last week, and a timely response to the decision to strip the sport from the Commonwealth Games programme.
Folkard, who studied music at Birmingham University, told Press Association Sport: “I was part of the presentation to the Commonwealth committee, so it was disappointing.
“But as a sport we did everything we possibly could to try to get archery into the Games, and hopefully that will help us get the sport back onto the programme in the future.”
Surprise finalists Belarus had fought back after dropping the first set to level the match, but a single-point win in the third set the Britons up to complete the job in style.
Their gold medal maintained a stellar year for the broader Great Britain archery team, which will pursue further medals in the mixed team event on Sunday, as well as individual competitions.
Last week’s performance in ‘s-Hertogenbosch also assured Great Britain of the maximum number of quota places for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, removing the pressure of Minsk acting as a further qualification event.
In contrast to veteran Folkard, Pitman and Bettles are preparing to compete in their first major Games and Bettles said she believed their team-mate’s experience will stand them in good stead.
“We’ve already started asking Naomi a lot of questions both about what to expect at the Olympics, and a Games like these,” said Bettles. “For me it’s very comforting to know she’s been there and done it so many times.”
Chelsie Giles won Great Britain’s second medal of the Games when she took bronze in the women’s -52kg judo competition.
The Coventry 22-year-old was forced to battle through the repechage after an earlier defeat to French world number one Amandine Buchard.
But Giles seized her second chance with victory over Poland’s Agata Perenc in an event which also doubles as the sport’s official European Championships.
Giles said: “Today has shown what I can do against the top players. Every fight was a challenge and I had to re-set and come back out for the next fight.
“I felt through all my fights I fought well. This is a massive step to qualifying for the Olympics.”
There were mixed fortunes for Birtley club-mates Pat McCormack and Mark Dickinson on the second day of the boxing competition.
McCormack skated to a unanimous points win over Laszlo Kozak in the welterweight division but Dickinson was edged out in a split decision to Ireland’s Michael Nevin at middleweight.