BULLSEYE: Julia Clements, 16, won a gold medal at the World Field Archery Championships in South Africa. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
JULIA Clements’ South African adventure at the World Field Archery Championships saw her bring back the ultimate souvenir – a gold medal.
The 16-year-old topped her division, the Junior Female Freestyle Unlimited (JFFA) B Class, at the recent World Championships, overcoming fatigue and heatstroke along the way.
Crunching the numbers on her return, the Mallee Sunset Field Archers member would have moved a massive eight tonnes – counting the number of shots taken using her 40 pound bow – and covered a huge 55 kilometres across the five days of competition.
Over the five rounds Julia recorded scores of 476 (Field), 477 (Hunter), 538 (Animal), 472 (Field) and 478 (Hunter) for a total of 2441. She finished more than 100 points ahead of second-placed Ashley Hunt of South Africa.
Julia wasn’t the only medallist from her family, with her father Malcolm winning a bronze medal in the Adult Male Freestyle Unlimited (AMFU) Class B category with a total score of 2539. Fellow local Glenn Hanemann came sixth in the same category with a score of 2414. Julia’s mum Katie was also part of the entourage.
Since returning home, and trying to beat the combination of exhaustion and jet lag, Julia said she still couldn’t believe she is a gold medallist.
“I didn’t think I’d be anywhere near getting a medal,” she said.
“I haven’t really processed it yet I don’t think. It’s still pretty surreal.
“I’ve definitely played the gold medal card a few times! When I returned to school last week a lot of my friends approached and asked me how I went. I pulled out the gold medal and they all screamed.”
Julia and Malcolm were both competitors at the last World Championships in Wagga Wagga in 2016, but as rain cut the tournament short, they had never actually completed the entire event.
Towards the end of the five days, exhaustion was taking it’s toll on a number of younger competitors. Julia admitted to suffering some heat stroke on the second day of competition.
“We had to buy umbrellas because there wasn’t much in terms of shady trees and we were walking about 11 kilometres a day,” she said.
“I was exhausted by the end and even now about a week after coming home I’m still struggling to get out of bed in the mornings.
“I met so many great people, and the South Africans were so nice. I suffered a bit of heatstroke on the second day and a competitor from Zambia really took time out from her own tournament to help and look after me.
“It was about the third day when I knew I was a few points in front of the next placed girl. We were grouped together as well so we were alongside each other.
“Having one parent who knows what it is like to be out on the course is really helpful. We were able to encourage and motivate a lot.”
The local trio travelled together from Mildura to Johannesburg, with stops in Melbourne and Abu Dhabi, dressed to the nines in their Australian uniforms which brought about a number of inquiries from fellow passengers.
“We had to travel in our Australian uniforms and we had a lot of people coming up to us and asking where we were going and wishing us luck,” Julia said.
The young gun has an eye on the Australian Field Archery Championships in April 2019, which will take place at the Red Cliffs club in April, as well as potentially the Indoor World Championships in New Zealand, also in April.
“I would love to get to the next World Championships in Estonia in 2020,” Julia said.