10 Awesome Things About the World Archery Championships
It was the biggest and best of all …
Eighty-four years after World Archery formed in 1931, Copenhagen, Denmark welcomed 627 athletes from 95 countries to the 2015 World Archery Championships from 26 July to 2 Aug. That’s an attendance record for the athletes, who competed in front of sold-out crowds during the two-day finals.
The tournament – which was broadcast live across Europe and the world – was held at the city’s center in front of Christianborg Palace, the Danish Parliament building, providing an amazing backdrop for this historic event.
…but the Olympics are even bigger
One match determined 48 qualification places: the first team round on Tuesday 28 July. For the recurve archers, this was two tournaments in one: They could qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and win a medal at the worlds. Judging by some team’s celebrations after that crucial match, they clearly consider the Olympics most important!
You might get one more chance
After that Olympic blitz on July 28, many big nations earned individual Rio qualifications as the tournament continued. Friday, however, delivered a unique knockout tournament, with two men’s and three women’s individual spots at stake.
With 18 nations battling for the precious places, Italy, Poland, Austria, Germany and Indonesia succeeded. Those who didn’t qualify will get more chances before the Games, but it’s always better to have it in the bag.
You should always prepare for anything
Many archers will long remember this tournament for the Danish weather, which was volatile during the qualifying rounds. The archers battled sleet, sunshine, calm spells, furious winds and torrential rains all on the same day! The extreme elements inflicted some well-known casualties.
Top Italian compound archer Sergio Pagni said afterward: “I train for hours and work hard every single day to be ready for the biggest event, and [when I shoot] I get rain with ice that for one minute arrive on my face, from left to right. And after that minute of apocalypse… sunshine! Rage…” Olympic champion Oh Jin Hyek of South Korea crashed in his first individual match, also blaming the weather. The finals weekend stayed dry, with just a little steady wind.
Ki Bo Bae capped a remarkable comeback
We’ve already mentioned the awesome talents of Ki Bo Bae here. She returned to the Korean squad this year after a year in archery’s wilderness, and fought her way to several World Cup medals and a victory at the World University Games. In Copenhagen, she won a team bronze, the mixed-team title, and – three years to the day since winning her Olympic title – the individual World title by beating Lin Shih-Chia of Chinese Taipei in the final.
The win made her the first woman to hold World and Olympic titles simultaneously since the legendary Kim Soonyung in the 1980s. It also completes a “career grand slam” of major titles to go with her 2012 World Cup win. Way to go!
Korea still atop the world
The “great white sharks” have seen a few defeats on the international stage the past 12 months, but when crunch time came, they won every finals match they competed in. Earlier, when the Korean men were forced into a shoot-off against low-ranked Poland in their first team match, the archery world was faced with the incredible prospect of the men in white not qualifying for Rio.
Of course, they squeaked past and went on to beat Spain, the USA and Italy on their way to an almost nonchalant world title. Only the Russian women’s team, claiming its first title in 28 years, stopped a sweep of recurve gold medals from returning to Seoul.
Wherever you’re from, you could get your chance to shine
Some lesser-known archery nations did amazingly well. The tiny nation of Georgia, for instance, qualified a full women’s team for Rio, and their mixed recurve team reached the bronze-medal match. Venezuela’s compound women reached the bronze-medal final, and recurver Elias Malave shot consistently all the way to the bronze match, even taking four set points off eventual champion Kim Woojin in the semifinal.
Iran and the Ukraine won compound team titles for the first time. Archery’s big nations were all there, of course, but it’s clear that countries from every continent are developing elite squads.
It’s better to be “on stage” first
For the first time at the worlds, the qualification rounds featured a pair of “show targets”. Spectators are positioned right behind these televised targets, with the matches live-streamed on Archery TV. In most tournaments, the spectators and TV coverage are reserved for the finals. This environment differed slightly from the rest of the field. Archers who won on the show targets stayed there, but their next opponent had to come in and shoot cold in that setting. This arrangement seemed to play to the advantage of several athletes.
Later, the warm-up range for the finals was a different, sunnier environment from the finals field itself. This arrangement might have helped some archers who shot the team finals earlier in the day, allowing them to set their feet and sights accordingly. In a sport with razor-thin margins of victory, such things matter.
Check and check again
Archers should always check their scores in a tournament. Why? Because mistakes can happen to anyone, even the legends. Three archers signed their card with a wrong total during the qualifications. A mistake in the USA compound men’s team dropped dropped them from qualifying from the elimination stages of the event.
Card errors occur in other sports, of course, and have cost golfers many titles over the years. Although such errors are rare in archery, the card has the final say.
Copenhagen was indeed “wonderful”
Although the Danish capital had some capricious weather, it also had wonderful sights, incredible food and friendly people. It’s obviously a well-practiced host of sporting events. Denmark’s home crowds got their reward on 1 August when homegrown Stephan Hansen, 20, won the world individual compound title, earing a standing ovation.
Archery’s a sport of precision at the very highest levels, but for 99 percent of archers, it’s easy – and a lot of fun! Start shooting a bow today.