Olympian and World Archery Fiji athlete, Robert Elder, continues to work hard to pursue his dream of representing Fiji for what would be his fourth Olympic Games.
Robert, who is an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Scholarship recipient, is currently based in Australia but was attending a month long training camp under the supervision of Coach Chong Yap Lee in March in the Philippines before COVID-19 closed down all travel. Coach Lee also coached and travelled with Robert to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Fortunately Robert was able to return to Melbourne, after an extension of two weeks on a repatriation flight to Australia.
Despite the restrictions brought about by COVID-19, Robert is optimistic of being a member of Team Fiji at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
"It will be a challenge for George Fong and I who is also vying for a spot on Team Fiji because in the sport or archery, practice is the only way we can get better," he said.
"Because of the pandemic, there are restrictions on sporting events including our practice sessions."
Robert said at the moment he was concentrating on his physical fitness while he is in Australia.
Robert with his coach, was preparing for the Oceania Archery Championships, which were to be held in Suva in April. The Championships were to be the Oceania Qualification event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Final World Individual Qualification Tournament (FIWQT) for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was scheduled to held in Berlin, Germany on 21 - 28 June 2020. Both of the qualification tournaments have now been postponed to 2021.
Robert had also previously trained in Dumaguete City, on Negros Island, an hour flight from the capital Manila with Dumaguete archers when preparing for the Rio Olympic Games. Last year Robert attended a training camp at the Kim Yung Tak Archery Academy in Korea.
To be eligible to participate in the Olympic Games Robert and fellow team mate George Fong will have to achieve the minimum qualification score (MQS) of 640. Tough competition is expected for the Oceania Championships as the winner will secure the one spot to represent the Oceania region.
Elder competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics in the men's individual archery event. He was defeated in the first round of elimination, placing 48th overall. He also qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in the men's individual archery, coming 63rd in the ranking round, before almost pulling off a shock comeback over Korean Kim Bub-Min (who had earlier won a bronze in the team event). After being 4-0 down, before losing 6-4 in the deciding set in the 1/32 elimination round, Robert needed to shoot a 10 for victory, but unfortunately he shot a 6 to bow out of the competition. His opponent eventually going on to win the Gold Medal.
Robert also participated at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil but lost out in the first round.
Meanwhile, the IOC Olympic Solidarity (OS) has issued an open-letter to National Olympic Committees (NOC) with details on action steps they have taken in regards to the 2017-2020 Olympic Solidarity Programmes.
The letter, jointly signed by the Chair of the OS Commission, Dr Robin Mitchell and Director of Olympic Solidarity, James Mcleod said: “We are pleased to inform you that, exceptionally, all the 2017-2020 programmes and budgets with a direct link to Olympic Games preparation and participation will be extended to the Tokyo Games in 2021.”
The letter acknowledged that numerous national sporting activities organized by NOCs have either been cancelled or postponed and many uncertainties exist relating to NOCs’ capacities to fulfil their responsibilities vis-à-vis their athletes, coaches and national stakeholders.
“As a trusted long-term partner to the 206 NOCs, Olympic Solidarity will be responsive to this new global environment and adapt its programmes and working methods where needed and within budget,” the letter stated.
Certain measures were put in place earlier following the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The extended OS programmes that are directly connected to the Games are the (a) Olympic Scholarships for Athletes 2020 (b) Team Support Grants (c) Refugee Athlete Support and (d) IOC Subsidies for NOCs’ Participation in the Olympic Games.
Robert is one of five IOC Scholarship recipients who are still in contention to qualify for a Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games place on Team Fiji. Other recipients include Tevita Takayawa (Judo), Eugene Vollmer (Athletics), Matelita Buadromo and Epeli Rabua (Swimming). Other athletes in the sports of Athletics, Karate and Table Tennis are also vying for qualification, while the Rugby 7s Men and Women’s teams remain the only qualified athletes to date for Fiji.