Bryony’s Olympic journey started with dad Gary – and was helped along by Worthing Archery Club

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It’s all in the genes for Shoreham archer and soon-to-be two-time Olympian Bryony Pitman.

At Pitman family gatherings there are always two world-class athletes sitting at the table: Bryony and her father and former world archery champion Gary Kinghorn.

Gary is also Bryony’s coach, a dynamic that many might find frustrating, but one that the archer credits for making her the athlete she is today.

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“My dad was the reason I started archery in the first place,” she explained. “I remember listening to all the stories he told, it wasn’t necessarily those where he and his team had won, it was about the places he’d been and the people he’d met. It just sounded like such a fun lifestyle.

Megan Havers, Bryony Pitman and Penny Healey are off to Paris | Picture: Archery GBMegan Havers, Bryony Pitman and Penny Healey are off to Paris | Picture: Archery GB
Megan Havers, Bryony Pitman and Penny Healey are off to Paris | Picture: Archery GB

“Although it was never really about just doing archery because it was fun. I wanted to do it and become world champion, have my own medal collection, so even from the very early days that was my goal.”

Pitman first picked up a wooden bow and arrow aged six, under the supervision of her father, but joining Worthing Archery Club aged 11 was the real turning point: Pitman decided she had a career to carve out.

By the time she started her GCSE’s she was competing as part of the British team, but the 27-year-olds journey to become the first British world no. 1 in the World Cup era hasn’t been without its trials.

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After taking the reserve spot at Rio 2016, the delayed Tokyo Games offered Pitman the chance to prove she had been wrongfully overlooked during the last cycle, but it was not to be.

Bryony Pitman will soon be a two-time Olympian | Picture: Archery GBBryony Pitman will soon be a two-time Olympian | Picture: Archery GB
Bryony Pitman will soon be a two-time Olympian | Picture: Archery GB

“Tokyo was a strange competition for me. I let the nerves and the pressure of it being an Olympic event get to me, rather than thinking it was just another field with a 70m target. The same as any competition.

“I finished ninth overall but there were a lot of lessons from that experience. Now I want to go to Paris, and I want to stand on that stage and enjoy it. It happens every four years, so I want to put on a performance that I’m proud of.

“Whether that leads to a medal or not, I just want to be able to look back in 10 years’ time and say: You know what? I did everything I could, and I had fun at the same time.”

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Pitman will be the leading member of Team GB’s women’s archery team at Paris 2024, joined in the squad by 16-year-old Megan Havers and 19-year-old Penny Healey.

Pitman’s archery journey has clearly been a family affair and she will benefit from Aldi’s Nearest & Dearest programme in Paris. The programme helps maximise support and minimise potential distractions for athletes so that they can focus on their performance and make the most of the unique opportunity to compete on one of the world’s largest stages.

Should the current world number 12 ever need reminding of this personal promise she need only glance down at her tattooed wrists. On one side sits the Olympic rings and on the other side a four leafed clover.

“The rings remind me that I’ve already achieved more than I thought might be possible. Looking at them makes it easier to get into a good headspace and remind myself I can do it.

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“The biggest thing for me is to remind myself why I do what I do, and ultimately it’s because I love the sport. When you can bring yourself back to that, it makes it easier to relax rather than overthink.

“If you say: I’m doing this. This is my choice. I’m here because I want to be, it’s much easier to crack on.”

If she were absent before, Pitman’s guardian angel seems to have reincarnated into the form of another of her tattoos: the Celtic tree of life.

A homage to her grandma’s heritage, parts of the tattoo symbolise strength and progress - two traits which have shone through Pitman’s post Tokyo performances.

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Having won Britain's first individual recurve World Cup medal for a decade with gold in Antalya in October 2022 and team gold at the 2023 European Games in Poland, Paris promises to be a golden opportunity.

“The dream is to come back with some medals. We’ve certainly got a good chance with the women’s team but when it comes to my individual performance I really just want to be able to look back on this Games in ten years as a really positive memory rather than a wasted opportunity.

“I want to leave Paris and be able to say I did everything I could to perform in a way that I’m proud of.”

Aldi are proud Official Partners of Team GB & ParalympicsGB, supporting all athletes through to Paris 2024

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