Olympic archers won't compete at Lord's pitch

The Olympic archery competition will take place between July 28 and August 3 on Lord’s hallowed cricket turf.

London, February 18, 2011

By Robin Millard

The London 2012 Olympic archery competition will see stands built on the Lord’s pitch and arrows fired over the wicket but the Games organisers have pledged to protect cricket’s hallowed turf.

They have switched their plans so that the archers will now fire from the Pavilion End, requiring the construction of two temporary stands on the home of cricket’s grass, in front of the Pavilion.

England are due to host a Test match against South Africa at the north London venue within two weeks of the archery medals being won, meaning there can be no slip-ups in returning cricket’s sacred ground to normal.

The original plans had the archers shooting on a north-south line, from the corner between the Pavilion and the Tavern Stand. However, it has been moved to a northeast-southwest line running directly over the wicket between the famous pavilion and the futuristic Media Centre.

Sports facility designer Jeff Keas, from the London 2012 organisers’ venues team, said they didn’t feel the old line showcased Lord’s enough.

“We really went back to first principles: What makes Lord’s Lord’s? The Pavilion, the Media Centre — these are the things that make it Lord’s,” he told AFP.

He said the International Archery Federation and the Marylebone Cricket Club which owns the ground were both thrilled with the new plan.

“The real positive thing that happens there is that it does showcase the sport, it brings the spectators right in nice and close on the athletes, it gives them that good energy, that good vibe.”

Lord’s has seen some quick deliveries from the Pavilion End before, but nothing this fast or deadly. Keas insisted that firing arrows over the wicket presented no threat to the precious square — the world’s best archers were not going to miss the target that badly.

“We’re going to be in the outfield. The hallowed ground of the wicket will not be touched. We’re only shooting arrows over it and the volunteers who retrieve those arrows actually walk around it,” he said.

The weight of the temporary stands will be spread out to protect everything beneath the surface. The stands will kill the grass they cover but replacement turf is already being grown at the same farm Lord’s uses for its regular re-turfs.

The archery competition takes place between July 28 and August 3, with 64 men and 64 women taking part in two team events and two individual events.

During the Olympics and the stands’ construction, Middlesex will play their county home fixtures at their other grounds, Southgate and Uxbridge.

“The Test match is 11 days after the last archery event. We’ve already scheduled very closely. We know exactly how long it takes to tear down these two stands and get the turf replaced, so this is all in place, we’ll be perfectly fine for the Test match,” Keas said.