Alec Denys, Chair of the High Performance Committee had the opportunity to chat with Marc Gagnon, Youth Program Coordinator and Alan Brahmst, Archery Canada’s High Performance Advisor, about the 2017 Canadian Youth Team that will compete at the 2017 World Archery Youth Championship (WAYC) in Buenos Aires Argentina in 2017.
Alec - What are our goals for the Youth Program and the 2017 WAYC in Buenos Aires?
Alan – We have developed a long-term performance program named TOP (Target Objectif Performance). Our keypartners, Own The Podium, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Sport Canada are supportive of our approach to invest in the long-term, and the program is targeted at the athlete group between 15 and U-23. We will be investing in this model through a variety of avenues and our athlete and coaching pathways will have strong connections to TOP. The program will be launched this spring, and represents an important 1st step in our goal to build an integrated, effective development program, which can produce world-class archers.
Although we believe TOP will make an immediate impact on our archers’ performance potential, it is too early for us to suggest what impact TOP may have on Canada’s performance at the 2017 WAYC. At the moment, and until we observe our athletes through 2016, we have not set specific performance targets.
Alec – How do you propose to achieve that?
Marc – We are implementing a selection process that introduces some performance and program requirements that are part of the standard groundwork archers should be going through before they are eligible to be selected to represent Canada at a World Championship. As part of these requirements, we also raised our minimum score benchmarks to better reflect our program expectations.
Alec – What are those new standards?
Marc – Our new standards are in alignment with our international competition. We prepared the eligible scores according to those shot at the last WAYC in Yankton, South Dakota, USA. Standard A is the score shot to be in the Top 10 at the last WAYC qualification round. Standard B and C are the scores that were needed to be in the Top 20 and the Top 30 respectively. We wanted to publish some standards that are based on actual scores. We have done a lot of work on quantitative and metric analysis, and we want our athletes to be aware what the different performance ranges are.
We will be providing additional information on these standards, not just by score, but also by percentages to remove the environmental elements. Performance standards are an important element for any high performance program in any sport in Canada, and we need to introduce more metric analysis to understand where we stand against our competitors.
Alec – Why no selection trial?
Marc – A selection trial is difficult to plan because our Cadet and Junior archers are still in school. Finding a date and a location that would be suitable for every Canadian is quite difficult and cost is always an issue since most would have to fly and be accompanied by parents.
Alec – What is proposed then with respect to announcing the team?
Marc – We will be announcing selection on May 1st 2017. The initial plan was for January 2017, but, as many members pointed out, this would be too early. As we did for the last WAYC in Yankton, we will select the team based on the scores shot in the year before, this means in 2016. From there, we will have an opportunity to build a team approach through various communication tools, as well as some potential training camps prior to the WAYC.
Alec – Is there a danger to select the team that early?
Marc – We feel that an announcement of the process now, gives each athlete an opportunity to perform to their best, and, we expect the Cadet and Junior archers to be as good in 2017 as they were in 2016. To ensure that this is the case, all selected team members will have to continue to perform and shoot eligible scores in 2017. If they cannot, they will have to withdraw from the team.
Alec – Who will take their place then?
Marc – The 2017 WAYC Canadian Team will have no alternates because we will select the team based on scores shot in 2016. If someone withdraws, we will select the next highest archers, who are eligible, and based on up-to-date scores, including those shot in 2017
Alec – What is the required tournament experience to be eligible for selection?
Marc – Getting to a tournament where there are a lot of participants in a category makes a big impression particularly on Cadet and Junior archers. Furthermore, Cadet and Junior archers in Canada do not have many opportunities to compete in elimination rounds. This lack of experience can prevent a strong performance. So, we decided to require Cadet and Junior archers to prepare themselves by competing in at least one event meeting some specifications if they want to be selected to the 2017 WAYC Canadian Team.
Alec – Why are there no Canadian events in the example list?
Marc – Unfortunately, there is no event large enough in Canada to simulate the appropriate type of international competition, and this means that Cadet and Junior archers must register in a tournament outside Canada.We believe that the elimination of a selection trial, and its associated costs will help the athlete to finance their participation at a tournament, which will provide more benefit to their development.
Alec – What about funding for this Canadian Team?
Marc – Historically, Archery Canada provides partial funding for recurve archers due to Sport Canada funding restrictions. In the recent past, Archery Canada has covered the cost of entry fees for compound archers. Since our 2017-2018 fiscal year budget is not yet prepared, we are not in a position to confirm what level of funding will be provided by Archery Canada.
Alec – Alan, any other comments?
Alan – Athletes need to develop according to a pathway, and their developmental stages in our LTAD. At the simplest level, this means that we need to develop our athletes with the appropriate competition exposure. For a WAYC, this means that we will send archers, who are ready to compete at this level. For that, they need to demonstrate a level of performance, which we are measuring as per Marc’s comments, and then some international experience to not be overwhelmed at a WAYC as their first tournament..It’s a pathway model implemented by other Canadian sports, and which we need to put in place to allow our program to prepare our athletes according to a long-term performance strategy.
In Archery Canada’s LTAD Competition Model, it is recommended that team selection for international events be based on a combination of experience and performance. Archery Canada has the mandate to select athletes and teams for international competition, and in particular, for World Championships including Youth, Senior and Para-Archery Worlds. In many cases Archery Canada subsidizes these teams and provides support in the form of registration, coaches, managers, etc. This represents an investment by AC into high performance archers, and an effort to assist Canada’s best archers to reach their highest level of performance resulting in international podiums. Such an investment must realize a return, which is measured both in results at the event in question and in consistent, progressively-improving results over a period of years by the athletes who benefit from this investment.
Therefore, Archery Canada, through its High Performance Committee and Selection Approval Panel, has a responsibility to select athletes for events which will serve as foundations for future performance, and not to send athletes to events which may prove detrimental to progressive performance development. Detriment may occur when: (a) the athlete is not prepared for the level of competition and suffers damaged confidence from poor results; (b) the athlete over-reaches or over-trains in an attempt to lift performance to a level for which he/she is not yet prepared, resulting in injury or burnout; (c) the athlete achieves relatively good results, becomes over-confident, and then is dismayed by later poor results; (d) and other scenarios present themselves.
Consequently, it is recommended that selection be based on a combination of experience (years in competitive archery) plus results (i.e. must achieve X score in a series of Y competitions, plus a top result in a selection event(s), to qualify. This helps to ensure progressive development and that qualifying results are consistent (i.e. achieved over a series of events rather than a one-off) yet that the athlete can perform under pressure in a selection event. The experience (sport-years) qualification should conform to the Archery Canada LTAD Model, recognizing that it takes 7-10 years on average to become a high performance “Train to Excel” stage archer, and therefore that introduction to international competition in “lower-level” international events (not World Championships) should take place, on average, after 5-6 years in competitive archery (that is, late in the “Train to Shoot” stage) of the LTAD Model.