In a sport of straight arrows, Jay Barrs is slightly warped. After each end (round of three arrows), he goes to his chair, puts on his headphones and listens to heavy metal music. He sometimes plays air guitar. "I play all the air instruments real well," he says, "air guitar, air drums." In competition, Barrs fires away with impressive speed, expending his three arrows in about a minute, half the time it takes his opponents to finish their ends. He saunters out to his target like Billy the Kid, his quiver slung around his hips like a holster.
Barrs, a 26-year-old archery coach at Arizona State, is the Top Bow now, having won the men's gold medal by edging Park Sung Soo of Korea, 338-336. In the finals, eight contestants shot nine arrows at each of four targets set at 30, 50, 70 and 90 meters. Barrs overtook Park after 50 meters, or at about the time he switched tapes from Sammy Hagar to M‚Äö√†√∂‚Äö√†√átley Crüe. "Sammy gets a little slow after a while," said Barrs.
The U.S. had two other hopes for medals in veterans Darrell Pace and Rick McKinney. McKinney finished seventh, but Pace, the gold medal winner at Montreal and Los Angeles, failed to make it past the semifinals.
The South Koreans swept the women's competition, with Kim Soo Nyung setting two world records on her way to the gold. America's archery sweetheart, 14-year-old Denise Parker, failed to make it to the quarterfinals, but as she pointed out, "I'll be 18 in Barcelona, 22 in '96, 26 in the year 2000...."
October 9, 1988
At the medal ceremonies, Barrs was introduced as "Barrs Jay, U.S.A." "That's all right," he said. "In Venezuela I was Joy Barrs. And in France I was Gay Barrs."