Archery prodigy with lofty targets
When Naseeha Talbot saw the girls practising archery, she knew she had to try.
She wasn't the only one — it was the most popular stop at last year's International Day of the Girl event — but a year later she's still at it.
“There were a lot of people in line,” her mother, Taqwa Lee, said.
“We did all the other events and she kept saying, ‘Mummy, mummy can we please go back?'
“When she finally got to it, she loved it. She waited in line, had her turn and went back. She kept on going back, so I said, ‘OK, let me just sign her up.'”
Naseeha, then 4, started with Indigo Archery two weeks later. After a year, she shows no signs of tiring of the sport.
“Out of all those girls that came through — there must have been 100 — she was the only one who stuck with it,” said Sende Semos of Indigo Archery. Her form was apparent from the start. Naseeha could hit a marked spot “every time”.
“She has everything it takes,” Ms Semos said.
“She has patience. She's not a show-off. Other kids will be clapping and cheering for her and she's just calm. She's focused on what she's doing. She's helpful, polite and eager. She's great.
“And she's stuck with it since Taqwa first brought her. I've seen her just about every week.”
Ms Semos suspects she'll be representing Bermuda by the time she's 13.
“She progressed really quickly,” her mother recalled. “Then she ended up teaching whomever was coming to the practice — even adults. She was teaching them how to pull their arm back. She's always the demonstrator.”
In an April tournament for under-18s at the National Archery Association of Bermuda, she placed fourth overall. At 5, she was the youngest participant.
Ms Semos said: “She was competing against all ages and shot a 265 out of 360. A lot of people noticed her that day.”
Naseeha narrowly missed a trophy by one point, much to her chagrin. But, she insists: “It's not all about winning.”
“It's fun,” she told Lifestyle.
When the Harrington Sound student isn't shooting arrows she's tumbling, often in between range set-ups.
Saturdays are busy. She does gymnastics in the morning and archery in the afternoon. “I didn't have to push her to do it,” her mother said. “It's all her.”
Once they saw she was serious, her parents bought her a bow and arrows. They are slowly assembling the full kit at home and are working on getting a stand for her targets.
“She has to get used to this bow. These ones are stronger, so she's just getting used to the new limbs,” Mrs Lee said. “She talks about it all the time. At the library she gets archery books.
“We were watching the Olympics on TV and she said, ‘I'm going to be there one day'. That's her dream, to go to the Olympics and be a professional archer.
“Sende is right behind her. She says she can do it and she saw it from the first time. She's got a lot of potential and she works hard.”
Ms Semos has been running her operation since May 2014 after training with her cousin David Semos, “the archery guru”.
Naseeha attended summer classes twice a week and helped Ms Semos teach the sport to her peers. “I use her has a model mentor. The kids range from 4 to 11 and when they see another child shooting well and hitting the yellows, they pay more attention than if I was to get up there and do it.
“She would stay in the class and help correct some of the kids with their feet. She played a very important role.”
Added her mother: “When she focuses, she's so good. She's got a lot of energy.
“That's why I like her in things like this because it teaches her that she has to focus and she has to pay attention and she has to be careful — good life lessons.”
Naseeha's gift didn't come as a complete surprise. Her mother dabbled in archery as a teenager.
“When I was in middle school, I actually did archery,” the pharmacy technician confessed.
“They called me Xena Warrior Princess. It's coming out in my daughter. Now she can start it from young and actually pursue it if she wants to.”