Israeli archer Itay Shanny (Itay Shanny/Facebook) (Itay Shanny/Facebook)
Itay Shanny

With practice limited by pandemic, Itay Shanny embraced visualization — and envisioned himself at the Tokyo games.

By United With Israel Staff

Shooting his way through a tournament in Paris, Itay Shanny made history by becoming the first Israeli archer to qualify for the Olympics.

“It’s surreal. I’m going to be the first archer from Israel to be at the Olympics,” said the 22-year-old after clinching his spot. “I need to see on paper my name and ‘Tokyo qualification,'” he added in joking disbelief.

Olympic archers compete to hit targets at a distance of 70 meters (230 feet).

At the Paris tournament’s initial qualification round, Shanny placed 23rd out of 94 contenders. In subsequent elimination rounds, he defeated competitors from Iceland and Latvia. He went on to punch his ticket to the Olympics by upsetting top-10 seeded contestants from Belgium and Croatia.

Shanny is currently listed at 130 in the recurve men’s world rankings.

When he was unable to practice frequently during the Covid pandemic, Shanny embraced a technique known as visualization to stay on target. He described to World Archery in a January interview how he would stand in a hotel room with all his gear — including a rain vest — and imagine in his mind every detail, from the appearance of the field and the feel of the wind to the sound of the crowd.

Other archers interviewed agreed that while there is no substitute for real practice, the more detail one visualizes, the more the body will follow when the time comes.

“If you envision yourself in the Olympics, you’re going to get used to the idea of you being there and – as a result, maybe – change accordingly and evolve toward that goal,” Shanny said months before his visualizations became reality.

So far, 81 Israeli athletes from 17 different sports have qualified to compete in the Tokyo games, making it the largest Olympic team the country ever has fielded. More qualifying competitions in various sports are scheduled in the coming days, so the team may grow even more.

The Tokyo games, which were postponed because of the Covid pandemic, are scheduled to begin on July 23. The archery competitions will begin the same day.

Israelis will visualize Shanny triumphantly standing on a podium, proudly wearing a gold medal as an Israeli flag flutters in the breeze to the strains of Hatikvah, the national anthem. Shanny, no doubt, already has.

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