Fresh off her medal-winning performance in London, archer Miki Kanie has hardly had time for the reality of Olympic bronze to sink in.
Kanie, one member of Japan's three-woman archery team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, returned to her home region of Aichi Prefecture on Aug. 5 and was immediately swamped with requests for TV interviews.
Watching other Olympic sporting events on TV, Kanie said, "It feels weird to think that I was in the same place. I can't really believe that these things happened."
Kanie credits her own Olympic success to belief in her teammates--and a little bit of luck.
At the Olympics, archery teams that placed in the top four in the ranking round, which determines the tournament matchup, automatically advanced through the first round. Team Japan narrowly missed this, placing fifth in the ranking round.
"Looking back, it was good that we were fifth," Kanie said.
That's because the extra match gave the team a chance to get used to the complex changes in wind direction at Lord's Cricket Ground, where the event was held.
"I thought of the first round as extra practice. Being able to watch the winds that day and adjust our performance was more beneficial for us going into the quarterfinals," said Kanie. Perhaps because of this, Team Japan was able to beat higher-ranked Mexico in the quarterfinals.
The other two members of the bronze-medal team--Japan's ace archer Ren Hayakawa and Kaori Kawanaka--competed at Lord's Cricket Ground during a test meet last year, but this was Kanei's first time at the venue.
"When we stand at the spot where we shoot, the ground is slightly tilted from the left to right. My teammates told me about this beforehand, which really helped," Kanie said.
During the bronze-medal match, Hayakawa made a 10-point shot on her 24th--and final--shot, putting huge pressure on opponent Russia. Hayakawa had been struggling to perform at her best this season, but Kanie believed in her teammate.
"During the team competition, Hayakawa didn't show any signs of her recent unevenness. Even during the last leg of the third-place match in the final Olympic qualifier, she made nine- and 10-point shots at the very end. I knew that she could do it," Kanie said.
Thanks to the bronze medal the three archers won, archery is attracting wider attention in Japan. The night after the third-place match, the team was interviewed at one Japanese TV station after another in London.
"I was happy when the newscaster said that archery is fun," Kanie said.
Kanie hopes to keep the momentum going on home turf next month when she represents Japan at the World Cup final, to be held at Tokyo's Hibiya Park on Sept. 22 and 23.
"This is a good opportunity to inform people about archery. I hope to win as many matches as I can and entertain audiences for as long as possible," she said enthusiastically.
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