Toronto archer takes aim at Olympic berth

There are no pre-game rituals for Canada’s top-ranked Olympic archer, for he has learned to go with the flow.

Every afternoon at the Peel Archery Club, 26-year-old Olympian Crispin Duenas shoots over 200 arrows to maintain his consistent form and technique. His routine begins when he opens his duffel bag and assembles his bow and targets while he waits for his training partners and coach.

Duenas’s love of archery comes naturally enough, he was inspired by Robin Hood. “It looked like such a cool sport to be doing, something that could be deadly but looks graceful and peaceful,” he said.

Soon, Duenas became a competitive archer, and the dream of going to the Olympics was born. He was noticed by Olympic archery coach, Joan McDonald, 69, who saw him shooting a compound bow; right away she knew he was a gifted athlete.

“I remember it clearly. I watched him shoot the compound bow,” she said, “I asked some people who he was, went home and spent time thinking how I was going to persuade him to change (to a recurve bow).”

Duenas is not the only one competing for a spot on the Canadian team, his 20-year-old training partner, Hamilton Nguyen, has been training with Duenas since 2008. According to Duenas, Nguyen is the closest to his skill level compared to his other training partners at the Peel archery club.

“There are times where Crispin and I will say ‘let’s shoot a match together’ just to prep him or myself for big tournaments, just to get in the mental state (for the tournament),” he said.

Duenas first competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and considers that the beginning of a steep learning curve. The experience taught him to go with the flow and to learn to adapt to different situations and stressors.

“There is no ritual I want to rely on. I have made it so that I can be versatile and very accommodating to whatever is thrown at me,” he said.