One stage done: 2014 Archery World Cup so far
Three French men made finals, Japanese recurve archers took advantage of a Korea–free slate and the rain poured down on the Shanghai riverside. It was the first opportunity for athletes to gather World Cup ranking points towards Lausanne 2014.
The seven with the highest ranking points total after all four stages will be invited to the Archery World Cup Final, along with one invitational archer from the host country.
It’s big prize money up for grabs – well over USD$200,000 throughout the season – and the medal matches from each stage and the whole Finals weekend are televised around the world.
Here’s what you need to know, one stage in…
2014 Archery World Cup Ranking | Top threes, one stage complete Position Recurve men Recurve women Compound men Compound women 1 Hideki KIKUCHI (JPN) Elena RICHTER (GER) Seb PEINEAU (FRA) CHOI Bomin (KOR) 2 Pierre PLIHON (FRA) XU Jing (CHN) PJ DELOCHE (FRA) Sara LOPEZ (COL) 3 Rick VAN DER VEN (NED) Aida ROMAN (MEX) Bridger DEATON (USA) Alejandra USQUIANO (COL)
We’ve got it from a reliable source that no athlete has ever made the gold medal final of a World Cup stage on an international debut. Sorry… no athlete had made a World Cup stage final at their first international, until Pierre PLIHON.
PHILON was a member of the organising committee of Nimes 2014 – the world indoor championships earlier this year – before carving himself a role on the French recurve team at national selections soon afterwards. He announced his World Cup arrival in Shanghai with style.
After beating promising Brazilian Marcus DALMEIDA with a shoot-off 10 in the third round, he edged past experienced Mexican Juan Rene SERRANO – before trouncing Australia’s Taylor WORTH with a 30-29-29 set run in the semifinals.
Everything up until the finals at a World Cup stage is shot at the qualifications and eliminations venue. The medal matches, however, move in front of a live crowd, live television and a live atmosphere that puts a whole lot more pressure on the athletes.
Multiple international team medallist Hideki KIKUCHI had experienced that atmosphere before, while PHILON had not. The Japanese archer wasn’t that much tighter on the target – but it was enough. A point here or there relegated PHILON to silver – and, judging by the Frenchman’s body language, he regarded it as relegation – while KIKUCHI took his first individual World Cup stage gold medal.
More rookies to watch:
Compound man Bridger DEATON (USA), who averaged 148 in eliminations after qualifying second at his first Archery World Cup stage. Iran’s Afsaneh SHAFIELAVIJEH, who came out of nowhere to make the compound women’s bronze medal match. One of France’s new recurve women – Laurie LECOINTRE (FRA) – after she finished in the top eight at Shanghai.
What we learnt: Shanghai
1) France is enjoying something of a resurgence in 2014. Despite holding the World Cup Final in beautiful Paris last year, the French team picked up a total of zero individual medals from the event. It was a bitter disappointment.
At Shanghai, the new-look squad picked up an individual gold, two individual silvers and a mixed team bronze. And the French team got Berengere SCHUH back from injury: a sure-fire boost to a recurve women’s team that’s flush with potential and got lots to prove.
2) Australians fight to the end…
3) Asia doesn’t need Korea’s recurves to win medals. Korea’s compounds – at Shanghai in the form of ex-recurve archer, and team world champion, CHOI Bomin – and Japan can do just fine. KIKUCHI won individual gold, recurve men’s team gold and Japan’s recurve women had team bronze.
Our money’s on…
…Sara LOPEZ. She was devastated to lose out to Colombian compound teammate Alejandra USQUIANO at Paris 2013, last year’s Archery World Cup Final. They’re great teammates – clearly supporting each other during tournaments and with plenty of great team results in the bag – but they met again in the Shanghai semifinals.
LOPEZ won by equalling her own matchplay world record (on her birthday, no less) – and she’s got the upper hand in the World Cup rankings, just, after taking Shanghai silver. USQUIANO had bronze.
Then again, USQUIANO is the defending gold medallist at the pair’s home Medellin stage…
Top archers: out of the race
No one archer is mathematically out of a World Cup Final spot just yet, but there are plenty of archers we expected to pick up World Cup points looking rather empty handed after Shanghai.
These three, in particular, are due a bounce back at the next stage:
Stephan HANSEN (DEN) – the ‘Prince of Denmark’ was top compound men’s qualifier at Shanghai before crashing out to surprise finalist Demir ELMAAGACLI from Turkey. He’s shooting too well to miss out on points again.
Jayanta TALUKDAR (IND) – India’s recurve men’s team had the highest combined total on the Shanghai ranking round, but crashed out in the first round to eventual winners Japan. The Indian media are not kind about international disappointments… which must be pretty strong motivation to avoid them.
Three storylines to watch… in Medellin
1) The return of Korea! An archery force internationally, Korea’s recurves skipped Shanghai in favour of their Asian Games selection shoot – the outcome of which was posted on Facebook by the Korea Archery Association.
The Korean recurve are back in Medellin – but without Olympic Champion KI Bo Bae and current World Cup Champion YUN Ok Hee, neither of whom made the team – and under pressure to score valuable points, as they’ll only attend two World Cup stages in 2014.
2) Most archery fans are familiar with Colombia’s compound women after they burst onto the scene in 2013. But what about those recurvers? They picked up women’s team silver at Shanghai and are now working with a very respected international coach.
3) Strength in numbers. Recently, Americas compound men haven’t been shooting as well in individual events as in the past. In the team competitions, they’ve been on point – USA won both men’s and women’s compound team golds in Shanghai – but it’s been the European archers taking most of the individual medals. The question is: how long can that continue?