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FACE TO FACE: LeRon Rolle - Aiming for world success in archery

LeRon represents The Bahamas at the CAC Games, July 2022 and sets a new national record.

LeRon represents The Bahamas at the CAC Games, July 2022 and sets a new national record.

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FELICITY DARVILLE

By FELICITY DARVILLE

 THE Bahamas has had the kind of international success in sports that some small countries only dream of. Bahamians stand tall, beaming with national pride when their national anthem is played from podiums around the world, knowing that another athlete has captured a gold medal. Bahamians have made amazing strides in many sports, like basketball (including the NBA), American football (including the NFL), baseball (including the MLB), track and field, tennis, swimming, sailing and more. So many more sporting disciplines are out there to conquer, including archery, and LeRon Rolle is aiming to master it. With a steady pace, achieving one success after the other, LeRon aims to become the number one ranked archer in the world. He wants to become an Olympic champion in compound archery, and he is practising every day to achieve it.

 Currently, LeRon is the national record holder in the compound bow with a score of 674 out of a possible 720. He recently achieved this feat when he represented The Bahamas at the Central American and Caribbean Games in San Salvador, El Salvador, June 29 – July 8, 2023. LeRon competed in both the Individual, and mixed team categories, making an impressive performance along with team mate Rachael Brown. In addition to setting a new national record, he had a personal best that keeps improving with each competition.

 “Ever since I was four years old, I was involved in track and field, soccer and basketball,” LeRon said, “but during the 2020 pandemic, restrictions prevented me from participating in team sports.

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LeRon with students from Trinity Christian Schools.

 “So, I tried archery and from the day I held that bow, I was hooked! Looking back, I know that this process was purposed by God, so I have the responsibility of walking in it with excellence to positively impact others.”

 LeRon took his first class in archery on February 28, 2021, taught by Gina Jenkins, President of the Bahamas Archery Club. He first learned how to shoot the bare bow. He enjoyed it, but he took particular interest in working with the compound bow. By the end of May, LeRon got his chance to work with the compound bow when he was introduced to David Rahming, president of Yamacraw Archery. The rest, he says, is history.

 LeRon had been shooting for just four weeks when he received a silver medal in his first archery tournament - the Summer Classics - held on June 26, 2021, at Pinewood Archery. With just four months’ experience, LeRon shot with people who had been in the sport for more than a year. His score was 116 at the end of six ends.

 His second local federation tournament - Winter Classics - was a virtual event held in December, 2022. Archers from clubs in New Providence and Grand Bahama participated in this event. LeRon competed in the open men’s category with much more seasoned archers, and he achieved a fifth place score of 267.

 After seven months of competitive shooting, it became clear that LeRon had a special talent for archery – one that could be nurtured to the Olympic status he now dreams of. In March of 2022 at the age of 16, LeRon became the only junior archer representing Team Bahamas, and the youngest participant competing at the world ranking Puerto Rico Invitational tournament. These games also served as a qualifier for the Central American and Caribbean games in 2023. He was successful in achieving a spot for The Bahamas at these games. LeRon shot with some of the best archers in the world and achieved personal best scores. For LeRon, a major highlight at the Puerto Rico Invitational was his elimination of the archer from Guadeloupe who had been in the sport for eighteen years. He entered that tournament ranked at 33; but by the time he was done competing, LeRon climbed his way up to rank 17.

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LeRon at the European Grand Prix, Lillieshall, England where he won a shoot off against Bulgaria.

 With international experience in competition under his belt, LeRon returned home to The Bahamas in June of 2022 for the Spring Classics where he earned a bronze medal in the compound men’s division with a score of 410 points.

 In September 2022, LeRon travelled with team Bahamas to Santo Domingo to participate in the 8th Copa Merengue de Trio Conarco world ranking tournament. There, he achieved a personal best of 516 in qualification and 115 in elimination rounds. That same month, he returned home to compete in the virtual Summer Classics, where he earned yet another bronze medal.

 By November of 2022, with a growing track record of success, LeRon received national acclaim when he won a gold medal and established a new national record in the Bahamas Archery Fall Classics tournament in the under-18 compound men’s division.

 In the same month, LeRon made history when he became the first Bahamian archer to participate at the world ranking Pan American Games qualifier. The tournament was held in Santiago, Chile. Once again, LeRon achieved a personal best score of 617 in the qualification round and 142 out of 150 in the elimination round. He also served as a volunteer for the Chile Archery Federation.

 On December 13, 2022, LeRon won the gold medal and established a new national record in the under 18 men’s compound division of the Bahamas Archery Federation’s Winter classics, Lyford Cay. By the end of December, he won the round robin tin cup archery tournament in the compound division.

 In just a year, LeRon’s progress was so amazing that others were taking notice around the world. He received an invitation to train, at no cost to him, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with effect from December of 2022. By January, 2023, LeRon was able to embrace the opportunity to train in Santo Domingo. While there, he achieved a personal best score of 629 out of a possible 720.

 By February, he was back in Nassau, where he won a gold medal in the Open Men’s compound division at the Bahamas Nationals Archery Tournament. He also established a new national record, achieving a personal best score of 666 out of a possible 720.

 LeRon competed in the European Grand Prix and European Games Qualifying Tournament, held April 3–8 in Lilleshall, Great Britain, where he won an elimination match in a shoot off with Bulgaria, scoring a perfect 10 over the Bulgarian.

 From May 12–15, LeRon competed in the under-21 Men’s Compound Division at the Gator cup in Gainesville, Florida. He then went on to compete in the Hyundai World Cup stage 3 tournament in Medellin, Colombia, June 11–18. He achieved a personal best and set a new national record – once again – scoring 669 out of a possible 720.

 “I am still young in the sport as it relates to years of experience, but I am really pleased with my very rapid progress,” LeRon said.

 “I have been shooting for almost two years, but each time I step on the competition line, I learn from others in the sport who have been shooting for at least 10 years, and just continue to excel.”

 To date, after shooting for only one year, LeRon holds ranking at the world level status and becomes the highest ranked Bahamian archer at the global level, and among the best in the English speaking Caribbean.

 Leroy Major, Member of Parliament for Southern Shores, was highly impressed by LeRon’s accomplishments and looks forward to other Southern Shores youngsters following in his footsteps. Major says that LeRon serves as a great source of inspiration for children, because he made major strides worldwide at such a young age, proving that young Bahamians can achieve anything they set their mind to.

 “I have had tremendous support, and I am very grateful to both archers and coaches from The Bahamas as well international countries such as the Dominican Republic, Israel, Great Britain, USA, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, Austria, and Colombia, Argentina, and El Salvador,” he said.

 Born May 5, 2005, LeRon is the third child of Lawrence and Lisa Rolle. His mother was the first to encourage him to try archery, knowing that her athletic son needed to find a suitable outlet for his talents when the pandemic hindered the association required to compete in other sports. LeRon gets major encouragement from his family, including his siblings Lakeisha Levan Rolle; his grandmother Mary Stovel; grandaunt, Louise Simmons; and many other family members including his uncles: Louis, Leroy, Lernex, and Brendan Foulkes.

 “My Olympic goal is to earn the position as the number one-ranked archer in the world in compound archery,” LeRon told me.

 “On my journey towards accomplishing this feat, I practice every day to improve my skills and techniques, and when I get an opportunity to do so, I train with fellow archers from Santo Domingo, which will ultimately increase my scores and bring me closer to my goal.”

 He’s not leaving Bahamian kids behind. He has a passion, which he considers more like a ministry. LeRon is the founder of Trinity Flames Archery Club, a community-based programme established on November 16, 2022. At the age of 16, LeRon achieved his basic instructor certification in archery, and served as an archery range officer during the Ministry of Education’s Youth, Sport and Culture summer initiative in June 2022. This summer, he is busy working with students at Trinity Christian Schools. Kids love learning from him as much as he enjoys teaching a sport that is quickly becoming his favourite. As a part of his ministry, LeRon offers theory and practical training for students at Trinity Christian Schools at no cost. He has also begun discussions with the Anglican diocese to train people in archery at St John’s College and St Anne’s School.

 LeRon is a young man who had big dreams from an early age. When he was three years old, he aspired to become an astronaut. Today, he is pursuing a degree as well as certifications in IT networking, and he looks forward to working in the field of cyber security. But while he enjoys the technical field, he is driven by his success in archery, and dreams of standing on an Olympic podium, hearing his Bahamian national anthem played as he clenches a gold medal.

 It’s only up from here. LeRon is scheduled to compete in the Hyundai Archery World Cup – 4th stage, August 15-20, 2023, in Paris, France. This tournament will bring his outdoor season to a close for this year. In the meantime, he continues to train daily to improve his skills and techniques, and prepare for the 2024 Indoor season, and 2028 Olympic Games.

Comments

Sickened 1 year ago

Excellent story. Congratulations on your success LeRon.

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