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September 20, 2000
Fairweather lands Australia's first archery medalPaul Majendie
Simon Fairweather landed Australia's first-ever Olympic archery medal when he won the gold in the men's individual event, cheered on by a delirious home crowd on Wednesday.
They went wild after his comfortable 113-106 victory over the American Victor Wunderle, and Fairweather went on a lap of honour around the stadium after his surprise victory. Dutchman Wietse van Alten took the bronze.
"At least 50 per cent of it was the home crowd. It was amazing," he said after maintaining his ice-cool concentration in what turned out to be a very one-sided final.
"I thought I would cry at the end and I almost did. I was just so happy to win. It was just amazing," he said, grinning from ear to ear as the crowd roared and cheered behind him
Fairweather was fulsome in praise afterwards of Lee Ki-sik, the coach who came over from Seoul three years ago and has helped to transform the Australian team in the lead-up to Sydney 2000.
"Mr Lee has been very gentle with us. He has fitted in very well with us. He has been wonderful. He could have been really hard," Fairweather said. "He has changed our focus and taught us a new technique."
Lee Ki-sik reciprocated, saying of Fairweather: "His commitment is the best. He gives 120 per cent every time. He is just a focused athlete."
The victory was rich reward for Fairweather who showed such promise to win the world championships back in 1991 but had never recaptured that form at the highest level.
He is now contemplating retiring to take up a career as a jewellery designer. "After 10 years and a million arrows, it gets a bit boring. I am thinking I will probably retire. Now seems like a good time," he said.
Wunderle, from Mason City, Illinois, was quick to pay tribute to his Adelaide opponent: "It was a good match. Simon shot well. I went out and shot the best I could. I was pretty relaxed. I never expected to get this far."
The South Koreans, who dominate the sport, failed even to make it to the semi-finals where Wunderle had a thrilling one-point win over Sweden's Magnus Petersson, achieved with a perfect on his last arrow.
Fairweather had never expected to get further than the quarter-finals. "I just had to focus on what I was doing. My heart was hammering away," he said after the greatest victory of his life. Australians had never come higher than ninth before in any Olympics.
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