LONDON — Pitted against one of the most respected archers in Russia, Rachelle Ann Cabral has to produce her damned best in their head-to-head duel on Tuesday to make it to the next round in the 30th Olympic Games archery competitions.
Otherwise, she’ll become the second Filipino athlete to go home singing the blues.
The Russian standing in Cabral’s way is Inna Stepanova, a rising star back home whom she’ll meet starting at 3:25 p.m. at the centuries-old Lord's Cricket Ground east of this city with a spot in the round-of-16 on the line.
"Maghirap magsalita. I’ll do my best, sir,’’ said Cabral, politely excusing herself as she headed out from the dining hall after taking a breakfast along with several Filipino athletes and coaches.
On Wednesday afternoon, Mark Javier plunges into action against multi-titled American Brady Ellison, one of the few archers fancied to give the great South Korean gang led by legally blind and world record holder Im Dong Hyun a big run for their money.
Cabral fired 627 points during the 72-arrow, 70-meter ranking round a few days ago, finishing in 48th spot in a field of 64 with a 627 total in a performance that sent coach Chang Jae Hun shaking his head in dissapointment.
Stepanova, a 22-year-old physical education student who stands 5-9, ranked 17th with 653 points, 26 better than Cabral’s but 18 off the top-ranking mark of 671s recorded by South Koreans Ki Bo Be and Lee Sung Jin and Taipei’s Tan Ya-ting.
The 30-year-old Javier struggled all morning in the ranking round, finishing 55th out of 64 starters as he totalled only 649 points on a memorable day that saw Im give his rivals a preview of what to expect from him by firing a new world mark of 699 points.
So powerful was the Koreans that they took the next two placings, with Kim Bubmin coming up with 698 and Oh Jin Hyek submitting 690.
This is the first time that Cabral will meet the Russian in an international tournament.