Winnipeg Olympian Jay Lyon has advanced to the final eight in archery at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where our own William Tell will be shooting for a medal on Sunday.
Lyon was a reluctant participant, expressing concerns that the Games -- awash in dire publicity over slipshod accommodations and concerns about terrorist attacks -- might be putting athletes in harm's way. In fact, Lyon took the extreme measure of bringing his own food supply, largely a suitcase full of granola bars and protein powders.
Lyon agreed to inform Free Press readers of his impressions of the Games and his Commonwealth journey, despite limited access to the Internet. The following are snippets on world-class archery, soldiers with machine guns in the street, reports of "New Delhi Belly" and, wait for it, a special girl....
Monday, Oct. 4: "Here's the skinny. I have no hot water in the room. The Internet is incredibly tough to get to use because the Wifi that the athletes were promised is non-existent or working poorly. So we have to wait for the 15-computer Internet lounge to open. The village is acceptable but definitely not up to standard.
"But get this, remember the food and supplements that I brought? Check this out. Hugh MacDonald, from Vancouver, is the third member of the Canadian Recurve Archery Team to get sick because he ate a bad salad last night. (Ed's noted: During team competitions later, McDonald was taken from the event on a stretcher and had to be given IV treatment.) Other athletes have the same experience, as they too ate the same salad. Glad I brought my own."
Lyon finished third overall on the first day of individual competition, trailing India's Rahul Banarjee and Jayuanta Talukdar. It was a pleasant surprise for Lyon, given that his international showings (Lyon finished 10th at the 2008 Beijing Olympics) have been, in his own words, underwhelming.
"I feel really good about everything. I'm in a great mindset and feel I represented my country well today. I really owe a lot of thanks to my friends Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Butch Johnson of the USA, as well as Doug Denton from my sponsors, Hoyt Archery."
Tuesday, Oct. 5: "Another great day for me. I won both my matches and am now in the top eight heading into the last day on the 11th. If I win one more match I am in the final 4 and then I'll be in a medal match. I started off with a bye and then moved into my opening match. I shot a 56 out of 60 and a 58 out of 60, winning 2 sets to 0 against Jean Marie Babet of Mauritius. My next match was against James Laing of Scotland where I shot a 56 out of 60, then a 53, due to increased winds. We moved into the final set where I shot a 59 out of 60. My next match will be against Larry Godfrey of England. I had the "eye of the tiger" today."
Wednesday, Oct. 6: "I have tried very little local food. I have eaten lasagna, which I have been told is excellent. I have also had eggs and bacon and hash browns in the morning. I have stayed away from all fresh fruit and veggies and stuff that I normally have at home. There's been reports of a few people getting "Delhi Belly" from the fruit and veggies. I have only left the village to go shoot -- it's recommended that we do not leave it at any time. I feel pretty safe, we're always escorted by police to the venue, we have a member of the Indian Police/Army on the bus with an AK-47.
"The village has watchtowers with huge machine gun turrets. The highways are lined by people with machine guns etc. So I'd say it is pretty safe.
"I tell you what, though, I feel a lot nicer being in India now. The people are very warm and welcoming. I had two kids come up to me yesterday before my match and they both bowed and said, "Welcome to India." I grabbed a Canadian Flag from my bow case and gave it to them. They were incredibly excited. Very touching and warming feeling."
Upon arriving in New Delhi, Lyon had been struggling this season. He singled out his sports psychologist, Jay Brooks, for working on his mental approach and major sponsor Manitoba Blue Cross for their continued support.
But it turns out the archer cupid may have struck too, in girlfriend Jenelle Dacquay-Neveux.
"I've also been fortunate to meet a special someone. She has been incredibly supportive as has her family. She has been a true inspiration in my performance as of late and I'd like to finally thank her by bringing home a medal. I've had a rough year in shooting, my world rank has dropped from 24th to 78th, I think. I haven't shown myself that I can go the distance at any event and for a large part of my year I felt like a bum. So my goal here, wasn't just to rank well (goal accomplished) but it was also to reach the medal rounds to show that I can go the distance and that I am not a bum."