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20 Sep 2014
Sydney 2000

Archer Fairweather shines at last

Archer Simon Fairweather had competed in the Olympics three times before Sydney 2000, never coming anywhere near a medal, and his results leading up to the latest edition of the Games had not been spectacular.

But Australian athletes drew inspiration from competing in front of their own supporters, and it was no different for Fairweather. However, few of his compatriots rose to the occasion with quite the confidence and panache that he managed.

Nine years earlier, Fairweather had won the world championship title. It was a surprise result that seemed to herald the start of a great career in the sport. Having finished only 16th in the 1988 Olympics, his rise to prominence was impressive, but it was followed by a slide back into the pack that was just as notable.

Instead of challenging for gold at the Barcelona Olympics of 1992, Fairweather only managed to place 25th. Four years later he didn't even make the top 50 at the Atlanta Games and had to watch on as Korean archers came to dominate the sport. The nation's athletes had won every world championship title since Fairweather's 1991 triumph and few expected that run to end in Sydney.

Indeed the ranking round went true to form – with South Korean archers finishing in first, second and third positions. Jang Yong-ho led the field, having recorded the best score in each of the three rounds. And yet, to the surprise of everyone, he was eliminated in the round of 16 by Russia's Balzhinima Tsyrempilov.

Fairweather had also survived the round of 16 and now found himself facing Tsyrempilov. The giantkiller couldn’t repeat his form, with Fairweather winning 113-104.

The Australian had now reached the semi-finals, with ever more fans getting behind him. Next to face him was Wietse van Alten of the Netherlands, but after a high-quality contest, Fairweather won through again, this time by 112-110. The unsung archer was now in the final.

Some 4,500 spectators gathered to watch the gold medal match, and most of them were supporting the Australian. If he was nervous, it didn't show. Fairweather led from the start and won the title by 113 points to 106. The also-ran had become a champion once more.

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