The first signs of age showed up in Denise Parker's bid to become the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Archery team early Tuesday. Still not comfortable with the selection shoot, having shot under the Grand FITA format only four times before, Parker shot two of her poorest rounds (called ends) of the four-day National Archery Association Olympic selection meet Tuesday morning.
Shooting a 25 and a 20 on the final two ends of her 70-meter shoot, which dropped her to 13th, she shot back with 28s and 30s to finish second in the first of four Grand FITAs. The second was scheduled Tuesday afternoon.Parker was, however, still the top qualifier for the Olympic team with a low three points - one for winning the two-day elimination event and two for her 2nd Tuesday morning. Debra Ochs, Howell, Mich., who beat Parker Tuesday by two points, was second in qualifying with four points and Melanie Stillman, Laureldale, Pa., was third with 12.
Parker emerged as the No. 1 shooter in a two-day elimination meet for the trials Monday. She took 24 of the 75 female archers into the final two days of the event. From this, three women will come out as America's representatives to the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea.
Trailing Debra Ochs of Howell, Mich., by a single point going into the short distances (50 and 30 meters), Parker took over the lead after the first end, then settled in and let the arrows fly straight and true. She finished 15 points ahead of Melanie Skillman of Laureldale, Pa., 1,278 to 1,263, and 18 ahead of Ochs (1,260).
Even after a very slow start, shooting scores in the 70- and 60-meter events below her average, Parker finished with her second highest score in a regular Federation of International Target Archery shoot. The one higher score came last month in Harrisonburg, Va., where the 14-year-old South Jordan shooter became the first American woman to break 1,300 when she shot a 1,301.
Ed Eliason of Stansbury Park, Utah, moved into the finals, finishing fifth in the men's chase with a 1,276. Jay Barrs of Mesa, Ariz., won it with 1,298.
Utah's second set of archers just made it in before the doors closed. Cindy Becker of Salt Lake City, took the 24th spot in the women's event with a 1,188, and Guy Bowden of Magna, shooting in his first trials, was 23rd with a 1,234 in the men's event.
Tuesday the 48 archers began the final two days of the event shooting what is called a "Grand FITA." Here, archers will shoot nine arrows at each of the four distances (70, 60, 50 and 30 meters) in the morning, then repeat the shoot in the afternoon. The same format will be used on Wednesday. From this the Olympic positions will be given to the three best in the two groups.
Parker, as did all of the top archers, started this event shooting slightly off target on Sunday. She scored a 305 at 70 meters and a 313 at 60 meters. The pressure of shooting for a trip to the Olympics was one reason. For Parker, a bothersome shoulder diagnosed as tendonitis, also contributed.
Monday, her shoulder better and some of the pressure gone, she shot with relaxed confidence. She was one of the first up on the line, and always the first to sit down after delivering three arrows. Archers are given 21/2 minutes to shoot three times; Denise seldom took one minute. She smiled, she laughed, she slumped in her chair in total ease.
Shooting at the shorter 50 and 30 distances, but at smaller targets, she scored a 318 at 50 and a 344 at 30 meters. Not one of the women shot better. The final six ends - shooting three arrows at a three-inch circle at 30 meters - she scored a 28, 30, 27, 30, 30, 28.
Away from the line, shaded from the 90-degree temperatures, with a small bag of ice resting on her left shoulder, she looked at the first step and talked about what it was going to take to fulfill her No. 1 goal, that of making the Olympic team.
"I felt pretty good today," she said looking back. "My shoulder felt pretty good. It helped, too, when I got the lead.
"Now comes the hard part. You can't make a mistake (shooting in a Grand FITA)."
Eliason, forced to go with a different bow handle when his old handle split apart, said he feels better about going into the finals.
"I learned a lot. The new handle is a little different. Now I know how it shoots. Now I feel better, not only about my shooting, but about myself."
Becker, too, ran into equipment problems on Monday. Sitting in a comfortable 11th after the first day, she slipped as each end was posted. It stopped just in time.
"I had trouble with the nock, sights, (bow) limbs. No, it was not a good day. Actually I felt good about the 30 (meter course), but I didn't shoot that well. I'll get everything back together and be ready tomorrow," she responded.