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Hot-shot sisters have glory in their sights

By Matt Maher | Grassroots | Published:

A pair of Stourbridge sisters are arrowing in on success in the sport of archery.

Stourbridge sisters Heike Palmer, left, and Freya are making their mark in the world of archery

Ace duo Freya and Heike Palmer have consistently hit the target since first drawing their bows and are now eyeing glory on the international stage.

Freya, 15, is already a member of Archery GB’s Olympic Pathway Academy.

Heike, meanwhile, has recently received an England call-up at under-14 level for the forthcoming Home Nations Tournament.

The 12-year-old caught the eye of selectors by winning the Long Mynd Archers event, breaking a national record previously held by her sister in the process.

Proud mum Maxine joked: “It is fair to say that caused a bit of angst in the household, in a good way!

“They are both doing really well. It’s a lot of hard work and they are practicing or training every day.

“We recently worked out they spend around 18 hours a week on archery. But they really enjoy it.”

Freya was the first to try her hand at the sport aged just nine, though the source of her interest remains a mystery.

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“Even now Freya can’t remember precisely why she wanted to try it,” said Maxine. “But it was around about 2010 she kept pestering me about archery.

“It took me a while to find a club. Most require children to be aged 10 or over to take part.

“Once Freya had started, so did Heike and it’s all gone on from there.”

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Heike has also caught the eye of national scouts and is on Archery GB’s talent development programme.

As part of the performance academy programme, Freya meanwhile attends monthly residential coaching camps at Lilleshall. The girls fit archery around their studies at Ridgewood High School.

“It’s a very time consuming sport, there are a lot of competitions and both of them are very dedicated,” said Maxine.

“It’s not a cheap sport either. You can buy the basic equipment for around £150 but as things got more technical the price goes up. Essentially it is about finding the right balance to make sure they stay focused at school. Generally they both do very well

“They aren’t pushed in any way. Everything they do is what they want to do.”

The sisters are both members of Wyre Forest Company of Archers, a club based in Upper Arley.

Club secretary Pat Wilkinson said: “We’ve had a number of adults go on to represent England but Freya and Heike are our first junior members to do so and we are very proud of them.

“We’ve got quite a few junior members. Our eldest member is 84. Archery is a sport for all ages.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring the sisters can contact Maxine by email maxpax32@virginmedia.com

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
@mjmarr_star

Chief sports writer for the Express & Star.

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