But I was also a little nervous because immediately following the competition in Korea, our World Team Trials would be held in New York(all the way on the other side of the world!!!). But in the end, I decided that this tournament would help prepare me for the world trials and the Olympics to come.
The trip started off well, until we landed in Korea. The customs officers felt obligated to harass us about our arrows! They could care less about our bows, but they wanted to know exactly how many arrows we had. After we told them, they preceded to keep us there for over an hour. At the same time, some tag that they had placed on Jessica Carleton's bow case continued to making a very obnoxious beeping sound. Finally, we were saved by one of the members of the organizing committee. Next we hopped on a bus (because we were told to!), and began our 3-hour bus trip to our hotel.
After finally arriving at the hotel (at 8:00 p.m. in Korea), we found the dining hall and decided to eat. Supper was…. well, it was very "interesting". I wasn't really sure what some things were, but I decided to eat them. The more I dwelt on what I was eating, the less I felt like eating. As I ate a fried piece of something (which turned out to be squid tentacles), I decided it was time for dessert!
The following two days were practice days. On the second practice day, we had the opening ceremonies. This was also my birthday, so I was given the honor of carrying the U.S. flag! The ceremony was excellent, and it included some people dressed up beating pots and pans, then some people dressed up with either big balls on their heads or ribbons dancing around, and a marching band. It was all very interesting to watch and listen to! After all the teams marched into position, the past 5 Korean Olympic Gold Medalists (all women) shot a balloon, which ignited an explosion of fireworks, balloons, and ribbons. This was by far the most elaborate and interesting opening ceremony that I had ever been to.
When we returned to the hotel, Ed Eliason insisted on taking me up the ski lift up to the top of the mountain. I had never been up a ski lift before, and since I am from Texas, I really wasn't comfortable with the mountains. Of course, it wasn't long before I realized that the mountain was much taller than I expected. Ed got a real kick out of shaking the cage and watching me hold on for dear life! Now, I must say that I do not eagerly await my next trip in a ski lift. Later that night, Guy Gerig arrived. His trip there was much worse. To make a long story short, he was dropped off in the town we shot in, which was 45 minutes from our hotel. Can you imagine being stuck in the middle of a place, not knowing where you are, and not being able to speak the local language? Luckily for Guy, he found a kid with a cell phone and phoned the hotel.
The next day was the first day of competition, the FITA qualifier. This was my first international FITA and I was hoping to do my best. I shot a 1283(which was a personal best at the time) with a 328 at 70m and a 331 at 50m(2nd highest 50m next to a Korean). I was ranked 10th, and Ed Eliason and Guy Gerig tied for 13th and 14th position with 1267's. On the Olympic Rounds we did okay. Gerig and Ed did very well, and they finished 9th and 11th, respectively. I did okay, but I still finished 14th. On the team round we shot well and finished 5th. Korea pretty much swept the tournament, winning both teams and both individuals. But that's okay, because next time there will be an American on the top of the podium!!! In between shooting, Ed, Guy Gerig, and I had been up to much mischief.
One day at the tournament field, after we finished team round, Gerig and I decided to sit down with about 300 school kids who stopped by to watch the shooting. It was very amusing to be the "tourist attraction" in another country. The school kids were quite impressed with our hair on our legs! I also had to take the liberty of introducing myself to many different beautiful women from different countries! I found myself astonished with one particular girl from Korea. She was a member of the national team, but didn't shoot at the tournament. I quickly noticed her fingers, and I have never before seen fingers so calloused before. Her hand was almost like a leather glove, but then it suddenly struck me. Before, I thought that I really practiced (shooting 200 arrows a day), but I realized what I did was nothing compared to what this girl did everyday (probably 400 arrows a day)!
On the evening of the last night, there was a wonderful banquet. There was singing, dancing, and prizes. The Australians took no heed to the alcohol and insisted on drinking Sooju (a Korean liquor that tasted like kerosene and was 90% alcohol). Of course, later that night I think a few of them regretted it. The next day, we began our long journey home. Since we went back over the International Date Line we added about 15 hours to our day!
That night we made it into New York. The world trials started a day and a half later. I am very happy now to be back home! For the past 3 weeks I have been gone from tournament to tournament, and fortunately I did very well at all of them. Now that I am back, I think I miss Korea a little (occasionally, I'll catch myself bowing to someone when I say thank you).
The tournament was the best I have ever been to in my life, and I look
forward to attending again in the future. The organizing committee did an
excellent job and put about $300,000 into the tournament. I must also say that
the coaches did an excellent job, Tom Green and Kathy Eissinger, and the
athletes, Karen Scavatto, Leah Clawson, Jessica Carleton, Ed Eliason, and Guy
Gerig, were great and I had an excellent time with them.
Guy Krueger is currently a student at Texas A&M University and is a top member of their archery club men's archery team. Together with his two brothers, Greg and Garrett, and in great part thanks to his parents Jim and Anita Krueger (Tiger Sharks JOAD, Blessing, TX) , the Kruegers have been very prominent in Texas Archery.
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