Frustrated by a swirling, changeable wind at the Hwarang Archery Field, South Jordan's Denise Parker was eliminated from individual competition at the 24th Olympic Games Thursday.
Her best shot at a medal - in the team competition that will be contested Saturday - is still to come, however; and the 14-year-old archer said Thursday's unexpected defeat had heightened her determination."This is a big disappointment," she said Thursday after finishing in 21st place, out of 24, in the eighth-finals round of competition. The top 18 archers moved on, including many of the same women Parker had defeated during the preliminaries Tuesday and Wednesday, when she placed 11th overall.
"It's important to me to still show I can shoot a good score," she said. "This (defeat) has helped me a lot. It's made me more competitive. I'm really wanting to do better."
Denise scored 298 points Thursday morning, just three points from the cutoff point at No. 18. She was undone by a particularly poor score at the 50-meter distance, where she scored just 64 points with her nine arrows.
At 70 meters she scored 73 points, at 60 meters 77, and at 30 meters - the final distance - she came back with 84 points, but it wasn't enough.
At the top of the standings, Lioudmila Arjannikova of the Soviet Union had 332 points, followed by Soo-Nyung Kim of Korea with 331 points, Young-Sook Yun of Korea with 328 points and Xiangjun Ma of China with 322 points. Melanie Skillman was the only American to move on individually, with 307 points to place 15th.
Friday's final figures to be a showdown between Arjannikova and Kim.
The wind was a factor for all the archers Thursday, but especially for the 105-pound Parker, whose bow, with a pull of 31 pounds, is less powerful than those used by most of her competitors.
"I did have some new arrows," said Denise, "they're carbon graphites. And that helped. The old aluminums would have drifted a lot more."
The carbon graphites drifted enough.
"The wind doesn't blow like this back home," said Denise. "It usually just goes in one direction and you can get used to it. Here, it seems like it's different every time. I had to keep watching the flags. I guess it got me distracted."
There was also the pressure of an event with the enormity of the Olympic Games.
"I really can't tell if that bothered me," she said. "I don't think I was that nervous."
She consoled herself with the realization that her score, at most other meets, would have easily qualified for the next round. "The only problem," she said, "is this wasn't any other meet.
"What went wrong at 50 meters I don't know. But that was it. One bad pass like that and you're out of the tournament."
Parker had qualified No. 1 at the U.S. Trials and was the champion at the 1987 Pan Am Games. Her first Olympic experience at just 14 - she was the youngest U.S. Olympian in all sports - heightened her desire to do it again.
"I definitely want to work for the 1992 Olympics," she said.
But first, she's got a medal to work for. After the Tuesday-Wednesday preliminaries, the U.S. team - comprised of Skillman, Parker and Debra Ochs - qualified for the 12-team finals by placing third, behind the Koreans and the Russians.
The British and the Swedes were next in line, and should provide the Americans with stiff competition for the bronze medal Saturday. The strong Korean and Russian teams are practically assured the gold and silver medals.
"If we shoot well, like we've shown we can, we've got a good chance to medal," said Denise. "I'll practice Friday and then try to relax, and see what happens."