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Olympic Archer Taylor Worth Might Just Be Our Most Disciplined Athlete

He's worth plenty.

04/06/2016 8:23 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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In the zone. The Worth zone.

Meet Taylor Worth. He's a 25-year-old West Australian living in Queensland who has got his eyes even more firmly fixed on a target than usual.

Worth, 25, is an archer who finished 9th at the London Olympics after knocking off the world number one early in the competition. Normally his main target is 70 metres in front of him. Now it's two months ahead: the Rio Olympics.

Four years older and four years smarter than he was in London, Worth has just been selected to represent Australia in both singles and teams. He's aiming to be just the third Australian to win an archery medal in singles and the first as part of a team.

The Huffington Post Australia caught up with Taylor this week as his selection was announced, and started by asking him the same annoying question we ask everybody. Then came seven equally silly questions with an arrow theme. Then some serious stuff.

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Worth at London 2012. The archery was held at Lord's cricket ground.

You won't believe the dedication of this guy. We'll get to that in a minute. But first...

Ant: Hi Taylor. Here's the question we always ask first up. This is important. Who would win a fight between a kangaroo and an emu?

Taylor: I'd go kangaroo every day. An emu's got two legs but can only kick with one, but the kangaroo could sit back on his tail while he boxes. They're natural boxers.

Ant: Good answer. OK, we want to ask some questions about archery and arrows in general. We've got seven. Ready?

Taylor: Yep.

Ant: We wish you'd said "shoot". Anyway, easy ones first. What's a bullseye worth in archery?

Taylor: 10

Ant: Who was the Aussie archer who won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympics?

Taylor: Simon Fairweather.

Ant: The TV show "Arrow" is based on which comic book character?

Taylor: Green Arrow.

Ant: Good. OK, hard one now. In the famous Shakespearean soliloquy which begins "To Be or Not To be, that is the question...", Hamlet says 'tis better to suffer the slings and arrows of what?

Taylor: You've got me there, no idea I'm afraid.

Ant: OK, it's slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Still in ye olde days, in a famous folk tale, William Tell shoots an arrow off his son's head. Which country did Tell come from?

Taylor: I'm going to say the UK.

Ant: Switzerland, sorry. He was basically the main Swiss folk hero for several centuries before Roger Federer came along. How's your Robin Hood knowledge? What forest did Hood and his band of merry men hang out in?

Taylor: Sherwood forest.

Ant: Good, last one then. In the inexplicably popular '80s song by the band ABC, the lyrics go "shoot that poison arrow through my..." what?

Taylor: I'm going to guess "heart".

Ant: Good guess. Five out of seven. We'll pay that. OK, let's talk a little archery. I actually covered Olympic archery as a journalist once. It was the bronze medal of Canberra schoolboy Tim Cuddihy at Athens 2004 and it was thrilling.

Taylor: I saw that. He was too young young to feel nerves. I was similar in London being my first Olympics and not really knowing what was going on.

Ant: And you did pretty well, but can you do better this time?

Taylor: Everybody at that level can shoot a ten. It's about not making mistakes. Mistakes can happen by slight lapses in concentration or misjudging weather conditions like wind or the way the light is hitting the target, or even being distracted by cars driving past. There are lots of factors to take into consideration. I've relived the footage from London many times so I'll try to take what I've learned in training and implement it in competition. My biggest competition will be myself.

Ant: What's the secret to a good day out on the archery range?

Taylor: You kind of know if you're having a good day within the first couple of shots. We would do anywhere between 250 and 400 arrows in one training session and you kind of know within half a dozen or so if it's feeling good and you're going to have a good day.

Ant: But what makes a good day? Is it the right mindset, the right physical preparation?

Taylor: Body preparation is important. You have to make sure you've recovered well from your previous session, eaten well, had a good night's sleep, hydrated and refreshed yourself.

Ant: And those things are as important in archery as they are in some of the sports we all know and watch?

Taylor: Archery is just like every other sport. We do injury prevention and management, we focus on nutrition and diet, we're all in the gym working hard, and we work on our mental game to keep our minds strong and focused for long periods of time. We work with sports psychologists to implement strategies so we're ready for anything.

Ant: Wow, and what about the physical side of things?

Taylor: There's huge strain on our shoulders and our backs. To put it into layman's terms, every time we draw our bow back, it's around 20 kilos [of effort]. If we shoot 300 arrows then that equates to five or six tonnes worth of effort.

Ant: OK, newfound respect for the physical demands of archery. Answer me this. Do you dream of arrows?

Taylor: I'm that tired by the end of every one of my days, I sleep so deeply that I never dream.

Ant: What about during the day? Do you ever catch yourself daydreaming about being on the podium in Rio?

Taylor: Not daydreaming as such, no. We are all working towards making every single aspect of our life in the pursuit of perfection. I try to make everything count, even singing the national anthem with pride. If I'm about to eat something I'm like 'is this going to help me win me a gold medal?' Am I gong to stay up and watch that extra movie. Is that going to help me win a medal?

Ant: You're so disciplined.

Taylor: Well if you stay up late and you're fatigued the next day, you'll have a junk session.

Ant: OK, we're officially fans now. So what do you do outside of archery?

Taylor: At the moment I work casually for Oakley and they're extremely supportive of the needs that I have for time off and travelling. They've been amazing for me.

Ant: How do you relax?

Taylor: Just by spending time at home with my girlfriend.

Ant: I couldn't help laughing the other day when you spoke of your performance at a recent competition and you said you came out with "all guns blazing". Um, weird analogy?

Taylor: I guess I was trying to implement the metaphor of saying I was rushing in and not letting anything distract me. Next time I'll say "all arrows shooting".

Ant: And we hope you come out with all arrows shooting in Rio, Taylor. Thanks for talking to the Huffington Post Australia.

Taylor: Thanks Ant.

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