Taking aim at the Olympics - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Taking aim at the Olympics

DV’s Yamaguchi is an up-and-coming archer

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Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2010 8:00 am | Updated: 1:43 pm, Wed Oct 10, 2012.

Nathan Yamaguchi was turned on to archery by the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

He and this older brother, John, wanted to be like the sharp-shooting Legolas Greenleaf.

Only Legolas never had to do chores in order to get his first bow.

"I made them move gravel for three days before I got them one to see if they were serious," their father, Gary, said. "John only continued on for a little bit, but Nathan has done pretty well."

That's Gary being a modest father.

Nathan, a sophomore at Desert Vista, is one of the best in the country at his age level in competitive archery and has hopes of representing the United States in the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympic Games.

That is a long time off, but facing international competition is not.

Yamaguchi, who was first introduced to the sport at church camp, is one of four archers representing the United States in the junior division at the Pan-Am Archery Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico, starting today. The event goes through Friday, Oct. 22.

"This will be a precursor to what I can expect at the Olympics," Yamaguchi, 16, said. "Competing at this level will only help me gain experience on an international level. If I can do well here, it is a sign that I am on pace to where I want to go."

Yamaguchi competed in El Salvador and Ogden, Utah, last year against other countries, but this is considered his biggest event of his young career.

To prepare for the event in Mexico, Yamaguchi competed in Chula Vista, Calif., last weekend and spent time at the U.S. Olympic Center.

His progression to the Red Team of the Dream Team, the highest level for someone his age, was a little trial and error, hard work and natural ability.

"I think it came natural to him once we figured out what we were doing," his father said. "We had some different teachers over the years and that really helped. When he started beating his older brother I figured he might have a knack for it."

Yamaguchi, whose sister Karissa is also on the Dream Team but not on the team traveling to Mexico, eventually won local events, started to get serious soon thereafter and went on to win a few national events.

An event generally has each archer shooting 72 arrows at a target 230 feet away with a recurve bow.

"When you get a good shot it is easy to move on and you don't think about it," Yamaguchi said. "It's harder when you miss your intended target. You can't let it get to you and you just move on to the next one because you don't have time to hesitate."

After returning from Mexico, Yamaguchi will focus on qualifying for the Olympic Trials for the 2012 London Games with the idea of gaining the experience needed to be ready for 2016.

"It's hard to believe that it all started from watching a movie," he said. "I know I have a lot more improving to do before the Olympics are a reality, but I also know I am willing to put in as much work as possible to make sure it happens."

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