January 13, 1953 |
Long Beach, California, United States
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Weight||72 kg (159 lb)|
|Club||State Archers of California|
(How A Career Ends: Olympic gold medal archer Luann Ryon By Rob Trucks AUG 9, 2016)
Luann Ryon earned a world archery championship in 1977, national championships in 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1982, and in Montreal in 1976 she became the second American to win Olympic gold in Women’s Individual Archery. No American woman has won an Olympic medal in the event since.
"I was very athletic growing up. And we lived on a river, so I swam, I waterskied, we hiked. I played all sports in high school, basketball, volleyball, softball. My senior year in high school we did archery for like two weeks, told the P.E. instructor it was the dumbest thing we ever did, graduated, went to Riverside to the community college, and the second semester I took archery because the tennis classes were full. And I ended up on the archery team there, and shot some collegiate records. Finished second at the collegiate nationals one year. My final year of college archery I met and became friends with the woman whose husband won the [Olympic] gold medal in archery in ’72, John Williams, and we all became friends, and he started coaching me. And then I ended up in the ’76 Games and won."
"I’m very competitive. You know, I’m one to work harder. Maybe not a natural athlete, but a hard-working athlete with the will to win. I wouldn’t say I was a bad athlete. I was pretty good, but I don’t think I was, like, great at all sports. I just liked to do them."
"I’m a big woman...so I could actually shoot a heavier bow than some of the smaller women I competed against. And I think, I’ve never had the best hearing, so when people were distracted by things around us, I might not have necessarily ever heard them. Not that I have bad hearing, but people would say, Didn’t you hear that? Or, Didn’t that bother you? I don’t know that my concentration was so good that I could block everything out, but I think sometimes I just didn’t hear things that other people heard, that they were distracted by."
"My first semester in college all I did was whack the side of my arm, you know, so I was bruised. And then, as I got better, I could shoot really good in practice, but we’d get to tournaments and I’d be so scared at the beginning and I’d get so far behind that maybe I’d finish third or fourth. Sometimes second, but I never shot good enough at the beginning to actually win anything. But through practice, and John convincing me that I was better than I thought I was, I finally learned how to win."
"I liked archery because I was good at it and I got to travel for free, but also, when you shoot that perfect arrow and you see it hit the center of the target, there’s just something about that, you know, to keep shooting that perfect arrow. I mean, it is a thrill to shoot that perfect arrow, from whatever distance, and see it hit. Boom. That’s a good feeling. You want to keep going until you get that perfect arrow."
"It helps when you start winning. It helped a lot when I started winning, and having grown up, you know, never having been anywhere and then get to go out of country to Montreal and Australia and different places, somebody else paying the bill for me to go shoot arrows, that was very much incentive."
"We shot indoors practice the winter of ’75, and up through the spring of ’76, indoors, up close, just working on form. Of course, in California you shoot outdoors all year long, Every time I shot a tournament in the spring I was a little bit better. My scores increased. So depending on where we shot and who we shot against, I got a little better and a little better, and then I made the Olympic tryouts [Trials]. I made the team, and my coach went to Europe and told everybody in Europe I was going to win the gold medal. Of course, nobody knew who I was."
"He had been giving me equipment that was a little heavier, switching my equipment up but never telling me, so I was actually shooting a heavier bow than I thought, which was heavier than any of the other women in Montreal, but we did it slowly and gradually so I never noticed that there was a difference. You know, ignorance is bliss, I guess they say."
"We got to Montreal and within two or three days I could barely hit the target. I had no idea what I was doing there, what was going on, but we were with the U.S. team. We were there a few days before the Opening Ceremony, you know, to get acclimated, get all your uniforms and everything. We didn’t compete until the very end of the Games, so I had like three weeks. I practiced in the morning with the team, and then in the afternoon with John and his wife, and just before the tournament started, right before we actually started shooting, I started to get things back together."
"I spent one morning session with the Russian coach, standing, watching me, taking notes while I shot 36 arrows, and I shot pretty good. And I thought, If I can do that with that kind of scrutiny, I started to feel pretty good about what was going to happen at the Games. And then, of course, the first day, the first morning I shot horrible, but I was like in seventh place and not very far out, and that was like the worst I’d shot all spring. I thought, All I have to do is shoot decent, and within a day and a half I had the lead, and then it was like Catch me if you can."
"We shot for four days. You shoot 288 arrows over four days, 72 arrows a day. When we finished the third day, I had a pretty good lead. The Russians were second and third, and once again I totally freaked out [laughs]. You know, I might win this thing. But once we started shooting in the morning – 50 meters was the middle distance, and it was one of my better distances – once we started shooting 50 meters I kind of knew. Something bad would have to happen for me not to win."
"There were a lot of nerves that third night, a lot of nerves. I didn’t sleep well. John came and got me. We went to A & W. He said I was a real basket case. He was almost worried about me before the fourth day. I was so nervous the third night I called home and talked to friends for hours, but I guess once I got up and got started then things eased up. Once I started shooting and got into the rhythm of things, I knew I was ok."
"I used to never tell people I was a gold medalist, because nobody ever believed me, but now I can tell people I’m a gold medalist, and when they don’t believe me I can say, Google me if you don’t believe me."
- Luann Ryon. sports-reference
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