A cool Robin Hood
from Sardinia

When the beloved “Calcio” becomes secondary.

His wheelchair’s spikes are green-white-red. Of course, the Italian national colours! Sandro describes the fascination of the precision sport archery at the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing.

He grimaces a little, pushes his sunglasses up and sceptically scrutinises the target 18 metres away. Sandro Lecca’s attempt to hit the bullseye goes a bit askew, the arrow landing to the right somewhat above it. He must do better on Friday than during training. This is when the archery competitions will begin in a giant tent next to the athletics hall.

During the training session on Wednesday, the competitors were very glad to have a roof over their heads when a heavy rain shower passed over the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA in the north of Düsseldorf.

Sandro ends his training session. A friend strolls over to the target and collects the arrows. There is some twilight outside, not exactly advantageous for archery, for which over 150 competitors have registered. Are poor lighting conditions the reason that he’s wearing conspicuous sunglasses with a blue frame. “No,“ laughs the 42-year-old. “That was a present from my girlfriend. It just looks cooler.”

Four months ago, he tried archery for the first time. Before that he was a sports shooter. In addition, he has also participated in indoor rowing and was a member of the Italian wheelchair rugby team.

What is more interesting, team sports or individual sports? “Archery has the advantage that you are not responsible for anyone else,” he says. “But playing in a team is more fun, you definitely get more laughs. And it is incredible how many wonderful people from so many different countries you meet.”

This also applies when the Italian rugby team suffer a lot of fairly clear-cut defeats. “And in any case, the results are secondary. But it’s crazy how the US team plays, a totally different sport,” says the ex-serviceman. He comes from near Cagliari in Sardinia and is, of course, interested in “Calcio” (football). He still fondly remembers the glorious days of AC Milan with Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten. But Rudi Völler, who played for AS Rome amongst other teams, is also one of his favourites.

Sandro will work on his technique before Friday and familiarise himself better with the conditions in Düsseldorf. Then, the arrows fired from the recurse bows, which can reach velocities of 280 km/h, should land in the inner ring more often, the yellow area with a diameter of 12 cm. That means a bullseye or, at least, a nine. “It is a mixture been a certain tension in the centre of the body and the necessary looseness,” said Sandro. “That is crucial, but not so easy to achieve during a competition.

For him, the training session is finished. Now, a sportsman from Israel grabs a bow and aims at the target, competitors from the Netherlands and Australia practice beside him. Sandro straightens his sunglasses. They are not entirely necessary. But of course, they look cooler.

Author: Oliver Bitter