- 2 Jun 08, 11:03 AM
I've trained with professional footballers, and as a one time wannabe soon found out the standards you need to make the grade.
I've been bowled at by a former Test player and never even got sight of the ball, and I've watched professional boxers train and been almost frightened by the levels of fitness they achieve before a fight.
The difference between being good at a sport and competing at the very highest level is massive. Attention to detail is paramount - the science of sport can make so much difference in that quest for perfection and glory.
So last week, the British elite archers travelled to Germany to work on the finest detail of their performance.
They went to Beiters Technical Centre, a regular destination for archers worldwide, who study and work on the finest detail in a bid to get their performance up to the maximum levels.
So important was this opportunity that they forsook a World Cup tournament to be there - and Barry Eley, the Team GB performance manager, told me that the week was probably the most important they will have ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Alison Williamson, Naomi Folkard, Charlotte Burgess, Alan Wills, Simon Terry, Larry Godfrey and Michael Peart will all be taking part in the Olympic shoot off in a couple of weeks time, and during their three day spell in Germany left no stone unturned in their quest for technical perfection.
Said Barry: "Essentially we're sacrificing this World Cup tournament to prepare for the Olympics, and the archers in Germany will benefit enormously from this trip."
Listening to Barry explaining the Beiters experience was like travelling back in time to a physics lesson at school and - bearing in mind I failed that particular O-Level miserably - he could have been speaking in ancient Greek.
Happily, Barry also has the ability to put it in simple terms that humble urchins like me can understand, and fascinating it is to listen to. The dedication to precision and attention to the finest detail just never ceases to astonish me.
In simple language, Beiters is all about high speed cameras recording every last and minute detail of the process of shooting an arrow - perfect balance, energy, the release process of the arrow, the relationship between the archer and their bow, and so on.
They had three days at Beiters, and returned home hoping that most miniscule of detail could be the difference between going to Beijing or not, and competing for medals at the Olympics or making an early exit.
Meanwhile, Britain managed to keep a high profile at the World Cup event in Antalya, Turkey as the women's team won a silver medal in the compound (an non-Olympic discipline), losing a closely fought final against Russia by 225 points to 223.
With one round to go, Nichola Simpson, Nicky Hunt and Andrea Gales - plus Liam Grimwood in the men's competition - all remain in contention for places at this year's World Cup grand final in Delhi.
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