Shooting for gold

Queen’s students and alumni carry Queen’s colours to the Olympics

J.D. Burnes, at 20 years old, will be the youngest member of the Canadian Olympic Archery Team
J.D. Burnes, at 20 years old, will be the youngest member of the Canadian Olympic Archery Team
Credit: 
Supplied by Rolly Duenas
J.D. Burnes will target a medal in the team event and a top-half finish in the individual event at the 29th Olympiad in Beijing.
J.D. Burnes will target a medal in the team event and a top-half finish in the individual event at the 29th Olympiad in Beijing.
Credit: 
Supplied by Rolly Duenas

When watching the Olympics this month, Queen’s students might see a familiar face or two in the crowd of athletes sporting the Canadian red and white. Second year ArtSci J.D. Burnes will represent Canada in both the individual and team archery events while sailor Katie Abbott, ArtSci ’08, will be representing Canada in the Yngling class along with her two teammates this August in Beijing.

“It means a lot, a dream come true,” Burnes said. “I was aiming for 2012, but this was a huge surprise.”

Burnes edged out his competition in the Canadian Olympic trials in June, clinching the third ticket to Beijing on the last day in the last possible match.

At 20, Burnes will be the youngest member of the Canadian Olympic Archery team and one of two current members of the Queen’s community at the Beijing Olympics. Five alumni will also represent the Tricolour as Canadian athletes and staff. Ben Remocker, Gordon Cook and Oskar Johansson will compete in sailing and Tim Berrett will compete in the race walk. Dr. Bob McCormack is Team Canada’s chief medical officer on site in Beijing.

Burnes began recreational archery in his grade 9 year and started his competitive career three years ago.

“I started out ski racing, but I was progressing very quickly [in archery] and thought that this was a sport I could get somewhere in, so I had to give up ski racing,” he said. “Archery requires a lot of financial sacrifice too, and my parents have been hugely supportive. So have my friends. They know what I have to do and give up to accomplish my goals.”

Burnes said there will be a significant mental strain from going into direct competition with some of the world’s best athletes, on the biggest stage in athletics.

“I figure it’s 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical,” he said. “At that level, everyone across the line has the physical ability to shoot strong, but the mental ability is what separates the group. I’m shooting six hours a day everyday of the week, working on my mental skills and mental plan. It’s about pushing yourself to the limit.”

He also recognizes that this Olympics represents the dawn of his career.

“I’m still a young shooter, so I have absolutely no expectations on how I’m going to do. If I go in there and come in last place but I shot well, then I’ll walk away happy,” he said. “This event should kickstart my career.”

As far as the air quality goes, Burnes doesn’t see Beijing’s environmental concerns as a problem.

“Beijing hosted test events for every sport last year, and the Canadian [archers] who went said it made no difference to them,” he said. “It’s more hyped up than anything, and if it affects me, it affects everybody, so it’s not a big deal.”

Burnes said he’s excited to get the chance to represent Canada on the world stage.

“I think it’s going to be a great Olympics, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” he said.

“I’m living my dream, and I’m proud to be a Canadian representing my country.”

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