by Viviscal Hair Expert, originally posted on June 1st, 2012
Less than a week after turning 19, Olympic archery hopeful Miranda Leek began bracing herself for a set of moments that will determine whether she makes the United States team that competes this summer in London.
She’s shot arrow after arrow, hundreds of thousands in all, since starting the sport at age 5 — honing a skill that that demands both technical and mental precision. If Leek maintains her lead this weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo., in the discipline know as women’s recurve, she could find herself wearing a red, white and blue-clad smile during an Opening Ceremonies entrance on worldwide television with the likes of legendary swimmer Michael Phelps and NBA star LeBron James.
So what was Leek, a 2011 graduate of West Des Moines Dowling Catholic graduate, doing just days before leaving for a dream-come-true opportunity?
Leek was saying goodbye to her hair.
The teenager decided to remove 12 inches for Locks of Love, a non-profit group that provides hair pieces for children with medical conditions that cause hair loss.
“If she makes the Olympics, I joked with her that ‘Someone’s going to get a super-special wig, getting your hair’ ” said her mother, Michelle Godfroy.
The third and final leg of the Olympic Trials process takes place Saturday and Sunday with just one women’s Olympic spot guaranteed.
Leek leads two-time Olympian Jennifer Nichols by a 6 ½ points with the most points at stake during this final weekend. The U.S. women’s team has qualified one of three possible spot for London, but could add one or two more at the World Cup event in late-June in Ogden, Utah.
If the Americans fail to add another spot, however, only the top point scorer after this weekend earns a trip to the Olympics.
“It would be kind of weird,” Leek said of the possibility of finishing out of first place, and needing team help to make the Olympics. “The goal is to finish first, obviously. If that doesn’t happen, I guess the focus would switch from trying to qualify individually to the team mentality and try to get it done.
“We’re fully capable of that (adding two more spots). We shoot well as a team.”
Leek’s father, Scott, has competed as an archer and worked as his daughter’s coach since she picked up a bow.
The point advantage heading into the weekend is surmountable, but provides a strategic cushion, he said.
“Since the round-robin matches are four points each, being up (6 ½ points) gives her a one-loss buffer, essentially,” he said. “If she drops one of those matches, she’s got some room to be OK.”
The father marvels at his daughter, as both a competitor and person.
“She’s definitely not your average teenager,” he said.
Leek’s decision to donate to Locks of Love came out training was influenced at Dowling, where students are directed to volunteer and contribute to the community.
For Leek, contributing started at the top of her head.
“I like to have long hair, but it gets in the way a lot when I’m competing, so I figured that if I want to go with a shorter cut, why not go a few more inches and help someone out?” said Leek, who also contributed hair between her fifth- and sixth-grade years at school.
Godfroy, Leek’s mother, is traveling to Colorado this weekend with Miranda’s half-brother, Adam.
The family hopes to see a dream materialize, in a sport that draws much less attention than high-profile Olympic endeavors such as gymnastics and track.
“There’s so much attention and publicity when you compare Shawn Johnson (Iowa gold-medal gymnast) or Lolo Jones (an Iowa Olympic in track) to Miranda Leek,” Godfroy said. “All three are Iowa girls, but Shawn is all the rage and Lolo is all the rage.
“She’s worked hard, too. She’s No. 1 in the nation right now. That’s my baby girl. I get goosebumps ever time I talk about her.”
WHAT IS ARCHERY’S RECURVE BOW?
Recurve, rather than compound, is the archery discipline contested at the Olympics.
USA Archery public relations manager Teresa Iaconi said a recurve bow has elongated limbs and, when pulled back, requires more strength than a compound bow. A compound bow uses a system with wheels and is shorter and more compact.
Iaconi said arrows fly at a much higher rate of speed from a compound bow — about 330 feet per second, compared to about 150 feet per second from a recurve bow.
Another difference: Compound shooters are allowed to use a magnified sight so competitors can clearly see targets, while recurve uses a sight without magnification.
“For almost every shooter, the target looks like a blur from 70 meters,” Iaconi said. “And if you have a bad shot with a compound bow, you might get lucky. Using a recurve, every little move affects the shot.”
BOWING UP CONFIDENCE, EXPERIENCE
Iowa archer Miranda Leek said coaches are increasing expectations for the former Dowling Catholic student, heading into the final weekend of the three-part Olympic Trials process.
“My coaches act like they’re well past me making the team,” Leek said. “They’re like, ‘We want you to get ready to win a medal.’ I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ ”
In preparation for a possible trip to the Olympics, Leek was part of an American group that competed in an “Olympic test event” last October in London.
Leek was able to shoot at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, site of the archery competition this summer.
“I’m really happy I got to do that,” she said. “That would really work in my favor if I end up going.”
The site oozed of tradition, Leek said.
“I don’t know much about cricket, but we were told that if you wanted to be a member there, your parents needed to sign you up when were you a kid (because of years-long waiting lists,” she said.