Kim Holding feels he has a chance at a medal even though he's shooting against an archer less handicapped than himself. Whether or not he medals, he said before he left last week for the Paralympics in Seoul, Korea, will depend on his mental game.
After all, this is something he's worked for and thought about for four years, now. This is something he's pictured in his mind over and over and over again. This is, to a handicapped archer, as high as you can go in the sport. This is the Summer Games for the physically impaired and Holding, a Salt Lake native, will be right there on the shooting line.Holding took a plane last week to Seoul, where he will be one of seven men competing for the USA in field archery. Archery competition was scheduled this week.
In Holding's case, it was a lot of skill and a little luck that sent him to Seoul. To fill requests from the Korean committee, the U.S. team was selected last year. Holding made it in the quadriplegic class. The team had to be cut by 20 percent, however, and Holding's spot was one to go.
However, because of his disability, the level at which he qualified and the fact that he shoots without special equipment, he was moved up into a position to shoot as a paraplegic. He was back on the team.
It means, however, that he will have to shoot against those less handicapped than he.
"I've been working towards this for four years, though. I've worked hard. I wanted this badly. And I'm excited about it. Just talking about it I can feel the adrenalin starting to flow.
"I know I can shoot a good arrow," he continued, "now it's down to working on my mental game."
Holding suffered the debilitating injury in 1979 when he fell from a balcony. He took up archery in 1983 for therapeutic reasons. He started shooting with a compound bow, he recalled, but after watching the 1984 Paralympics, he switched to a recurve.
"I decided right then," he said, "that I wanted to be in the Paralympics. I've been working towards that goal ever since."
Besides shooting five days a week, between 70 and 90 arrows a day, which is difficult considering he must push his wheelchair over rough ground to get from shooting line to the target and back, he worked on redesigning his chair and bow.
The chair, according to the rules, must be the same as used in everyday living. He has been, however, able to make a few modifications to help him shoot.
The bow he got recently was two inches shorter - 62 instead of the more common 64 - and that, too, helped him tremendously. His highest score is a 1,122 of perfect 1,440. If he can better his previous high then he feels he has a good chance, but realizes it's going to be tough.
"There are," he said, "some very good shooters entered, the best in the world. But I feel good about my shooting. I think I can do well."
Some of the top shooters he'll be up against will be Guy Grum of Belgium, Dick Graham of the U.S., Alec Denys of Canada and Kari Autio of Finland.
Looking at the top teams, he felt, the top four from an recent international meet should do well - France, Italy, Great Britain and Finland. Not at the meet, but also with good teams, he added, are the Koreas (both North and South), China and Japan.