TASS Stars Awards – Athlete with the Most Potential

Shepperton archer James Woodgate was recognised as the TASS athlete with Most Potential at this year’s TASS Stars awards. We found out more about the 18-year-old as he embarks upon a gap year before studying physics at Warwick University in 2021.

James receiving his TASS Stars Award as ‘ Athlete with the most Potential’

TASS: How would you describe 2020 so far?

James Woodgate: In short, it’s been challenging. But if I’m looking for the positives then it’s been a good time to refresh and prepare.

TASS: What have been the highlights of your sporting season prior to lockdown?

JW: The two things that really stand out are becoming Senior National Indoor Champion and being invited to join the Olympic squad as a standby athlete in preparation for Tokyo 2021! Things were going great for me.

TASS: What have you missed out on as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?

JW: I’ve missed out on my first year in the Junior (Under 21) category and the whole international season that came with it. That includes what would have been a home European Junior Championships. Fortunately this has already been moved to 2022 which will be my last year as a junior.

TASS: How do you feel you have coped with the unprecedented challenge posed by Covid-19 and have you encountered any specific problems?

JW: I feel I’ve coped pretty well and used my time to get more ‘bow-fit’ (although my general S&C took a significant hit). I was lucky enough to have a target set up in my loft prior to lockdown so I could practice technique at short range. But I was very glad to get outside again as soon as we could. It was a bit challenging staying motivated during the full lockdown but watching some competition coverage from the past few years usually kicked me into gear!

TASS: What are you able to do now and will you be able to compete again before 2021?

JW: My club was very quick to open up so I’ve been shooting there five or six hours a day, five days a week and then doing some ‘bow training’ at home two or three times a week. Since the gyms opened, I’ve swapped out my home gym sessions for the real deal three times a week. As far as competing is concerned there’s been limited opportunity. Archery has been able to put on some local competitions and some pioneering virtual international tournaments. Hopefully there will be more to come before our outdoor season ends.

TASS: What are your targets for 2021?

JW: Of course I’d love to break through onto the Senior team next year and go to Tokyo. On the junior side of things, I want to medal at the World Youth Championships in Perth. So it could be a very busy year.

TASS: What does it mean to you to be part of the TASS family?

JW: It means a lot to me to be a part of a family full of amazing student athletes and to be supported as I look to balance my education with my sport. TASS has really helped me to improve in all aspects of my life and I know they’ve done the same with so many others!

TASS: What does it mean to be recognised at the TASS Stars Awards?

JW: It feels great to be recognised as having potential – especially when you consider the calibre of athletes in TASS. Now I’ve just got to turn that faith in my potential into some medals when we get back to competition!

TASS: Following a year of intense disruption do you think TASS will have an even more important role to play in the next few months and years and, if so, why?

JW: Absolutely. I think TASS’s support will be crucial in getting athletes back and ready to be at our best in both our education and our sports. This is the kind of time where support networks are really tested and TASS is exactly that.

James was nominated as a TASS athlete with Most Potential after joining our programme in 2018. He engaged fully with his academy coach and TASS practitioners – developing at a rapid pace as a student and an elite athlete. His qualification for the 2019 European Youth Cup and World Youth Championships reflected that progress. An invitation to join archery’s Conversion Academy followed and James has secured a reserve spot ahead of next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.