Archer Fairweather designs Olympic gold

Simon Fairweather won Australia's first and only archery Olympic gold medal at the Sydney Games.
Simon Fairweather won Australia's first and only archery Olympic gold medal at the Sydney Games.

Archer-turned-jeweller Simon Fairweather could probably design a dazzling piece but his Sydney Olympic gold medal is hard to top.

Fairweather won the individual men's archery world championships in 1991 as a 22-year-old and went to three Olympic Games prior to Sydney.

But given the profile of the sport in Olympic medal-hungry Australia, his efforts went virtually unnoticed.

The now 50-year-old became a household name at the Sydney Games, winning Australia's first medal in the sport, and to this day our only gold.

With the archery contested over five days, Fairweather got off to a solid start, finishing eighth in the 64-man rankings round, with South Koreans, including Atlanta bronze-medallist Oh Kyo-Moon, holding down the top three spots.

He progressed through the three elimination rounds and quarter-final to face tough Dutchman Wietse Cornelis van Alten in the final four.

The pair produced a high-quality contest with the South Australian surviving a shoot-off to secure a medal.

Fairweather turned it to gold with a ruthless 113-106 win over American Vic Wunderle in the final, using his local knowledge in the swirling wind and cheered home by a roaring crowd.

"I went to five Olympic Games in all and, perhaps it was due to the Sydney Games being a familiar one in terms of people and location, I really felt it was a happy and friendly and genuine one," Fairweather told worldarchery.org.

"What helped was that the pressure had built up early.

"I had begun dealing with the process well and the experience of the past Olympics helped me in keeping cool.

"An Olympic gold medal is something very different. I am really proud of it.

"People still recognise me, give me respect all over."

Wunderle was gushing in his praise of Fairweather, who stopped competing regularly after in 2005.

"There is no greater honour in competitive archery than to win an individual Olympic gold medal in your home country," Wunderle also told the website.

"Simon's victory was a big win for archery in Australia and across the world and some of the influences are still being seen today."

Fairweather was national coach for two years but stepped down a year out from the London Games, and is choosing to keep a low profile in the 20th anniversary of his triumph.

He has now put his jewellery design background into producing archery equipment from his country home near Adelaide.

Australian Associated Press