U of T's Crispin Duenas at the Olympics
Alumnus Crispin Duenas is no stranger to the international stage. The former physics major represented Canada in the 2008 Beijing Games, won Silver at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara and is widely regarded as one of Canada’s greatest archers. Before flying to London, Duenas shared some of his insights and experiences with writer Gavin Au-Yeung.
Congratulation on qualifying for London! How does it feel?
My initial reaction when I first learned that I was going to the 2012 Olympics was relief that all my hard work over the past 4 years had amounted to something tangible. I knew that it was expected of me to win the Olympic spot for Canada which added a little pressure, but I had already trained to deal with that pressure, and everything just fell into place.
Tell us a bit about preparing for the Olympics. Take us through a week in your life.
With the weekly schedule, I train at the archery range about 5-6 days a week, with 3 of those days dedicated to strength and muscle training in a gym. Archery does not require a lot of muscle mass, but a lot of strength and stability in everything from your shoulders all the way down to your ankles.
A typical shooting day consists of two practice sessions (one in the morning and one in the afternoon/evening) and is done outside in the elements. I will typically shoot for about 3 hours in the morning, take a break for lunch and return in the afternoon to shoot for another 4-5 hours. This can take me to as many as 300 shots per day.
What are some thoughts that go through your mind on the day of your event? How do you prepare yourself mentally?
On the day of my event, there's only one thing that runs through my mind: I am the best. But the only reason that this is in my mind is because it is true. I also tell myself that I have trained for this (and any) competition so there is no reason to doubt myself in any way. This makes me feel comfortable and relaxed to execute my shots the way I always do.
How will your experience at the 2008 Beijing Games help your performance this year?
My previous experience will give me a kind of "heads up" on what to expect in terms of how a tournament at this level is run. However, since all archery tournaments are pretty much run the same way every time, I am already very comfortable with all of the processes, scheduling and pressure that a high level games can exert.
What drew you to the sport of archery? Can you describe the moment when you first realized this was your sport?
I think the desire for perfection and precision is what keeps me in the sport of archery. To be able to shoot a 10 (bulls-eye) at a distance of 70m away takes a lot of training and preparation. You're basically turning your body into a well-tuned piece of machinery that can replicate the same movement over and over again.
I decided that I wanted to compete (at a high level) in the sport of archery while I was still new to the sport. The thing that drove me was knowing that I was never always perfect; once I became good at a certain distance, there was always a farther distance to shoot at and try to master. It was the thought of perfection at multiple levels.
How has your experience at the University of Toronto helped shape you into the athlete you are today?
My experience as a U of T student helped me understand how to really manage my time effectively. While I was doing my undergrad, I had to balance school and training and travelling to competitions. I went to countless international competitions, often carrying my school books and studying when everyone else was socializing. But now it has made me a well-organized person who can multi-task several important events without sacrificing the quality at which I perform any of them.
What separates archery from other Olympic events?
I think that archery is unique because it is one of the original Olympic sports still 'surviving' today. It has a classic feel to it, and although many people don't think so, archery is actually fun to watch once you know the rules. Also, many people don't know how much fun archery is until they pick up a bow and give it a shot (pun intended).
Is there a particular athlete you want to watch during the Games?
I haven't really thought about that just yet. I'm focusing on my game. However once the archery event has finished, I will start to think about which athlete I would like to go see.
How do the Olympics differ from local competitions? Can you tell us a bit about what it’s like to be there?
A local competition is just that; a shoot at my local club where I'm comfortable and get to sleep in my own bed and get to dictate what and when I do things such as eat, go out, etc.
When you're at something like the Olympics, you have to get used to village life, find out the best food to eat in the food hall, get used to roommates, etc. However, this is what makes the Olympic experience an experience. It's exciting getting to know and follow other athletes' successes and the best part is that everybody else that's there has the same goals as you; win Olympic gold.