We interviewed James, an Olympic archer, at his training facility near Coventry.

Tell us about yourself. Where do you live, what do you do?

I live in Coventry at the moment. I am an Olympic archer and also a student studying Physics at Warwick University, which means I'm mostly trying to balance the hectic life of a student with the hectic life of an archer trying to perform to the highest level.

"I really enjoy performing well under pressure. I want to be one of the best in the world, if not the best."

What are you passionate about and what keeps you motivated?

Well, obviously I'm passionate about archery. I really enjoy being outside and being able to just go and shoot and relax. Even though I go into high-pressure situations quite often, I like being able to feel relaxed in those situations and perform well. Outside of archery, I am passionate about physics and the climate. I enjoy being on hills and mountains. When I have time between training and studying, I try and get out as much as possible to do some rambling. 

What keeps me motivated? I really enjoy performing well under pressure. I want to be one of the best in the world, if not the best. And I really love the fact that I can do that with archery while being outside in the elements, occasionally battling with them in the outdoor season. We have an indoor season and an outdoor season, and outdoor season is my favourite.

How did you first find out about Trakke?

I found out about Trakke through my brother. In fact, my bag is one that he had before me, so I got it secondhand from him. It was in perfectly good condition and I'm really glad he gave it to me because I've used it loads ever since.

I've really enjoyed the fact that it's waterproof and keeps everything dry inside my bag. If it starts raining while I'm outside at a competition I'll quite happily leave the bag outside for a little bit while I'm getting everything else sorted out, then I'll bring it back in with me.

Which Trakke bag do you have and how does it fit into your life?

I have the Assynt 17 backpack from a few years ago, it has a wet wax finish which is really cool. I take it everywhere I go. It's got a pocket for my laptop, and despite dropping the bag a few times, I've had no damage to the laptop. It's often packed with books and food for the day, I've also taken it travelling when I go to international competitions and it carries all the stuff I need for a day of shooting including extra layers. I'll pack it full with all that and extra snacks.

What's important to you when it comes to adding something like a backpack into your everyday routine? What do you look for?

I'd say I mainly look for functionality. That's really important to me. I’m outside a lot of the time, so waterproofing is very important, I don't want to have to put anything in extra bags just to keep things dry.

I look at the pockets and how I'm going to use them. There's a sweet spot between having too many pockets and not having them at all. I quite often separate stuff inside my bag using little pouches, and I find that easier than having pockets inside the bag itself.

For backpacks, I mainly look at how it fits alongside the stuff I'm carrying every day.

How did it feel to be at the Olympics, especially with Tokyo being delayed?

My situation is a little bit weird. Had it been the year before, had COVID not hit, I wouldn't have been on the team. I was coming up to being ready for the team, but I wasn't ready to be selected, performance-wise. So that COVID year meant that I could take a gap year from my studies to fully focus on shooting. And then it just came as a huge rollercoaster.

I started training full-time, then started beating people on the squad at the national training centre at internal competitions. I made it into the selection shoot because I'd been pushing everyone so hard, and then managed to make the team. So it was a real rollercoaster that year. It's weird to say, but I kind of benefited from COVID in that way.

What's something you're looking forward to in the year ahead or something you're working on right now that you'd like people to know about?

Well, it's kind of a bit of both. Because I'm in sport, I'm constantly working toward something ahead of me.

At the Tokyo Olympics, we worked pretty well as a team. We came fifth. We'd have loved to have done a little bit better, but that's always the way. Well unless you came first of course.

As for my individual performance, well, I got a meme out of it [laughs]. I wouldn't say it was my finest hour on the finals field, I got knocked out in the first round - but you live and you learn. It was a fantastic experience and I've learned a hell of a lot from that, it's really informed my training for these last few years and how I carry myself through day-to-day life.

Here's what James has been up to since the interview...

To maximise my chances to get on the squad for the Paris Olympics, I've taken a year out from my studies at Warwick to once again pursue archery full time.

Right now my focus is on making the national team for this year, for which we have selection shoots in March. Hopefully I'll make the top 3.

Assuming that goes well, the next task is to qualify quota places for Paris. There are only two events remaining to do this at, with the last chance being in Antalya, Türkiye, in June.

After that, the Olympic dream can continue. Time to get stuck in!