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Mind over madness

Date Released: Mon, 13 August 2012 19:56 +0200

Pushing your body to its limit is one thing. But the mind? That’s a hard one was the observation of a Grahamstown sportsman who contributed to a remarkable achievement last weekend. With sports fans glued to the rugby, or the last few hours of Olympic action on their television sets, a group of local sportsmen quietly went about setting a new world record, on our doorstep.

Rhodes University Archery Club member Simon Naude now owns the new 36-hour record for the world's longest archery shoot. The record attempt began at 6.30am on Friday morning in an icy cold Alec Mullins hall at Rhodes University.

After two years of planning and months of last-minute organising, the day finally came and Rhodes Archery were on their way to make history. Six archers started the shoot - Marc Jacquet, Simon Naude, David Jackson, Lance Ho and Christo Nel (all Rhodes Archery Club members) and Terrence van Moerkerken (Western Province Archery).

Friday morning's shoot went smoothly, with spirits high and archers bragging that it didn't’t seem to be too hard. But by early Friday afternoon a few archers were already showing signs of sore shoulder and neck muscles. It was the cold Grahamstown night, however, that changed their minds.

Ho recalls: “Around 2am Saturday morning I started feeling it. My body was cold and my muscles started to send pain pulsating through my shoulders, back and legs. The standing was the worst. I started dreading the walk to the targets and back (to the shooting line). Besides that, I think it was more a mental struggle than [physical]. I think it’s easy to push your body through its limits, but the mind, that’s a hard one.”

By Saturday morning only three archers remained, with Ho, Naude and Van Moerkerken shooting for the record. “My mind was gone on Saturday. I was like a machine. All I did was pick the bow up, shoot, fetch arrows and repeat. I didn’t think any more, it was like my brain just froze and I was hung-over or something,” Ho said afterwards. Van Moerkerken was quiet but determined throughout the two days. His most memorable words were early Saturday morning: “This is sheer madness, absolute madness.”

Van Moerkerken is currently South Africa’s number one Recurve archer and it showed over the two days. Ho shot high scores throughout the weekend with his lowest scores being 7s which he only shot twice in about 2000 arrows (36 hours of shooting). Overall he shot the highest scores at the end of the event.

Simon Naude was also a trooper throughout the shoot. Every time someone asked if he was doing okay he would just reply “I’m fine.” At the last few hours he was the only one on the line that could still sing and nod his head to the songs playing in the background.

When the last few minutes of the 36 hours finally arrived, the song “The final countdown” by the band ‘Europe’ played in the background with a cheering audience clapping hands and enjoying the last minutes. Unfortunately only one person’s name could count as the official record holder although all three finished.

The only fair way the organisers could determine the holder was to do a raffle shoot. One of the organisers placed a sticker at the back of the target. The archers then shot at the target without knowing where the spot was, with the archer closest to the spot would then get his name in the Guinness Book of Records as the official record breaker.

Naude shot the winning arrow and will now be featured in the Guinness book of records for 2014. I was like a machine. All I did was pick the bow up, shoot, fetch arrows and repeat. This is sheer madness, absolute madness.

  • ·         This article appeared on Grocott’s Mail online.