Stage-frightened Cabral bows out

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LONDON—Pitted against a world-ranked Russian who just couldn’t find her rhythm, archer Rachelle Anne Cabral chose, it seemed, the most perfect moment to shoot most imperfectly.

Cabral blew a chance of a lifetime by yielding to world No. 8 Anna Stepanova of Russia, 1-7, in the first knockout stage of the women’s 70-meter recurve competition at Lord’s Cricket Ground here and bowed out of the 30th London Olympics.

On a wet, chilly afternoon at the hollowed home of the British sport of cricket, the 27-year-old from Tuguegarao, Cagayan, was admittedly anxious over the time limit and the big gallery’s appreciative roar for every shot.

“Nanibago ako sa crowd, ang daming nanood (I am not used to competing before such a big crowd),” said Cabral, who was in her first Olympics. “Nagulat ako sa bilis ng oras sa bawat shot (The time limit for each shot stunned me).”

She telegraphed her bout with the shakes too early in the pulsating match by shooting a 6 in the first of the three-arrow first set, which she lost, 22-23.

Cabral then dug herself a deep hole by shooting a mind-boggling 3 right in the first arrow of the second set which Stepanova, a key member of the Russian trio that barely missed the bronze in the team event, also took, 23-18, for a 4-0 lead.

The archers play five sets of three arrows each in the KO stage. The winner of each set—the archer who gets the highest cumulative score with his three arrows—gets 2 set points. If the set is tied, each protagonist gets 1 set point. The archer who gets the most number of set points wins the match.

“Sabi ko, dapat miss yun, ang alam ko lalabas sa target yun (I thought that shot would completely miss the target),” Cabral said, referring to that 3 in the second set that drew pained expressions from the gallery.

After a brief chat with her Korean coach, Chung Jae-hun, the only other Filipino in the archery competitions apart from Mark Javier, opened the third set with a 9 and gave herself a chance of extending the match. When Stepanova tied the set at 16 after two arrows, Cabral halved the set point, 1-1, by matching the Russian’s 9.

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