|ESPN.com: Girl||[Print without images]|
|With a new technique and her same old attention to detail, Ariel Gibilaro is hoping to compete in the Olympics this summer. "When I was 5, I played soccer, and I wanted to be in the Olympics. But that really wasn’t a possibility then," she says.|
Accuracy had never been Ariel Gibilaro's problem.
From 70 meters away -- which is two-thirds the length of a football field -- the teen archer from North Branford, Conn., could hit a target the size of a silver dollar.She took up the sport at age 10 and made the U.S. youth national team five years later. But in February of 2011, Gibilaro was no longer leading a tournament or even in contention for the top spot. She was in 50th place nationally out of 52 archers. "I got frustrated and upset," said Gibilaro, 17, reflecting on last year's National Indoor Championships, which were held in different regions, including her location of Andover, Mass. "But it's not like I didn't know what was going on. I knew." Her coach, Teresa Iaconi, had completely changed Gibilaro's form one month prior to the Championships. Iaconi had recently been certified to teach the National Training System (NTS), a technique the U.S. men have used to become the top-ranked team in the world. "I talked to Ariel and explained that she could do even better with this new technique," Iaconi said. "But I also told her that in the short term, she could lose some ground." Iaconi was right on both counts. Gibilaro took a step back while she learned, but she then leaped forward. In September at College Station, Texas, she finished 14th out of 52 archers, which got her one step closer to qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London.
|Ariel Gibilaro has changed just about every aspect of her form and hopes it all comes together in time for her to earn an Olympic berth.|
-- She has a new way of holding the bow, putting a certain amount of pressure on each finger.-- She has a different way of aiming, releasing and finishing the shot. -- And most dramatically, the way she lines her body to the target and the way she draws the bow back were changed. "Imagine trying to do all that and being consistent in the wind," said Iaconi, noting that the Olympic archery competition will be held outdoors. "But the good thing is that [NTS] gives archers a process to follow." It remains to be seen how Gibilaro does as she bids to qualify for the world's biggest sporting event. But one thing seems certain: She plans on shooting for a long, long time. "It's been such a big part of my life the past seven years," Gibilaro said. "I am going to keep doing it until I can't lift a bow."