Road To The Olympic Games

Archery

2-time Olympic archer Crispin Duenas on perfection

A lifelong perfectionist, Canadian archer Crispin Duenas will shoot for a podium finish in Rio beginning on Friday, marking his third Summer Olympics. CBC Sports talked to Duenas about learning to be the best he could be at a young age and the misconceptions about archery.

'You have to be a perfectionist to achieve your goals,' says Olympian

Canadian archer Crispin Duenas was consistent in Friday's qualification round at the Rio Olympics, leading to a ranking of 18th among 64 athletes. (Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images/File)

By Doug Harrison, CBC Sports

Performing in front of a hometown crowd, Crispin Duenas wanted nothing more than to nail the perfect shot.

But it wasn't a superior field at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto that stood in the way of the Canadian archer but rather a bad case of bronchitis that disrupted Duenas' training and caused him to lose 15 pounds.

Duenas, who would usually shoot about 300 arrows a day in practice, was reduced to 30 one day ahead of the Pan Ams.

Fortunately, the bronchitis didn't linger and the University of Toronto grad finished ninth a week later in Copenhagen to secure a spot for Canada at the upcoming Rio Olympics.

Duenas will be in action on Friday morning at 8 a.m. when the men's individual ranking round gets underway.

Duenas spoke to CBC Sports about his penchant for being a perfectionist, misconceptions about archery and his outlook for Rio.

Your parents had a lot to do with you becoming a perfectionist. How did it start?

I remember nights staying up late practising piano and my mom or my dad would be listening to me and if I made the smallest mistake I'd hear yelling from the kitchen: "Nope. Do it again." It's been bred in me that whenever I was at school, I had to be really good in my academics.

I remember my parents giving me twenty dollars for any perfect test that I had when I was a child. I think [being a perfectionist] just spilled over into my sport. For archery and any other sport, you have to be a perfectionist to be able to achieve your goals.

What do you get hung up on that makes you a perfectionist in archery?

Making sure the shot is going to be perfect. In dealing with my sports psychologist over the years, I've learned that I can't search for the perfect shot. What he said to me is make every shot really good and your average will come up until it's perfect. Earlier in my career I had to fight being at full draw, staring at the target and doing a mental checklist of this is perfect and that is perfect. I realized after 30 seconds at full draw that I should shoot. That's one obstacle I had to overcome. On the flipside, being relaxed and going with the flow to properly execute a shot is perfection in archery.

Does being a perfectionist mean you're demanding of yourself?

Yes. That's something I've had to learn how to deal with over the years. As a young teenager, I had the temper tantrums. At the 2005 world championships, I was 19 and not having the day I wanted. I think was probably 18 arrows in out of 144 arrows for the day and I was getting down on myself. My coach was trying to get my attention. She had just had ankle surgery, so she took her cane and hit me in the arm.

I think that's one of the first steps that was really important for me to learn that what I was doing was not actually helpful. The really good, composed athletes will have their little moment to have a temper tantrum and then it's over.

What is the biggest misconception about the sport?

There are a lot of misconceptions about archery. Usually the first thing that hits people is how heavy the bow is. Not everybody expects the bow to be almost eight pounds, and the actual pulling of the bow string is 53 pounds. People are taken aback when they see me training hard in the gym.

You have to be really fit, in terms of your cardio, core strength, and shoulder stability but mostly in your mind. The biggest part of archery is having the mental strength to be able to last a full day of shooting without breaking down.

How are you lined up for success in Rio?

I'm way more prepared than I ever was for [the] Beijing [Olympics in 2008] and London [in 2012]. It's an ongoing learning process. I try to learn from each thing I do, whether or not it's related to archery, and I think that's what has prepared me for Rio. Having shot the Olympic test event already, shooting a new Canadian record [685 arrows in out of 720] on the Olympic field [last] summer and winning a silver medal. I think we've got a great chance for success at Rio.

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