Student Ruby sets her sights on making Team GB’s 2024 Olympic squad

Date 12.10.2020

An eagle-eyed University of Northampton student is combining her studies with a bid to compete for Team GB at the 2024 Olympic Games.

Ranked as the seventh-best women’s archer in the UK, Ruby Paul’s enjoyed a steady rise from a novice schoolgirl who hadn’t picked up a bow, to an Olympic hopeful, in a matter of just eight years.

The 19 year old, from Rushden, who is studying Sports Rehabilitation & Conditioning, is at the start of a four year training cycle to try and make the Paris Games – and even the pandemic hasn’t stopped her from putting in the required groundwork.

She said: “I share a flat in Northampton with my boyfriend, Jacob, who is also an archer. When lockdown came and training was put on hold, we got around it by putting up a target in our flat and practised with that. It was pretty bizarre, but it stopped us losing our focus.”

Ruby almost had her interest in archery scuppered at an early age, when she was a pupil at Stanwick Primary School.

She said: “There was a taster session at school, and I told my mum I really wanted to take part. For some reason, I wasn’t signed up, and I then had to sit there and watch my older brothers Harry and Louis have a go. I was a bit bemused, so when the chance to join a beginner’s course came around when I joined secondary school, I was determined to take part.”

Ruby completed the beginner’s course, before joining a local club where she made rapid progress.

She began to put in excellent performances in local, national and international competitions, which culminated with her representing Great Britain’s youth team at the age of 17, in 2018. She said: “It was held in Greece and was a big deal for me. I remember I had really bad jelly legs when I was in my first match, and there was a big screen for spectators to watch the action close up. I just had to tell myself to not look at the big screen, and I got back in the zone.”

Ruby overcame her initial nerves and landed a bronze medal.

Ruby’s international success continued in 2019, when she competed in the European Youth Cup Circuit in Slovenia and Romania, where she finished sixth in the juniors U21 category. She also made her World Youth Championships debut, in Madrid.

Coached by 2010 Commonwealth champion, Nicky Hunt, Ruby’s still a year away from being eligible to join Great Britain’s senior set up, but has her sights firmly set on the 2024 Olympics in France.

Ruby Paul at the National Finals

Ruby Paul at September’s National Finals where she finished fourth – photo: Malcolm Rees

But, as archery isn’t financially rewarding, with elite participants having to rely on grants, sponsorship and other sources of funding, Ruby’s also focussing on a career in sports rehab – which is why she joined the University of Northampton.

“When I was applying for a university place the course at Northampton really stood out for me,” said Ruby.

“I made the right decision because the course has been amazing. I love the atmosphere – the teaching is delivered in an informal and friendly way and the lecturers are really approachable, which is so different to being at school.

“You get to discuss various aspects of sports rehab and conditioning, and are encouraged to weigh up which treatments would be best for each particular condition. It’s been a real eye-opener and feels like the natural course for me to do. I am hoping to work in sports rehab in a clinic when I graduate. But, when I finally retire from archery, I would love to work in the military, helping the rehabilitation of injured soldiers. That’s something that’s really appealing to me.”

Ruby Paul facing an archery target

Ruby Paul at September’s National Finals – photo: Malcolm Rees