Top Asian Games teams marked for Shanghai gold?
This Shanghai stage of the Archery World Cup is the first big outdoor international tournament since the Asian Games, the largest multi-sport games outside the Olympics themselves – and for the big archery nations, taken just as seriously.
In the 17th edition, held in Incheon, Korea in September and October last year, the home nation – under visibly immense pressure to deliver – took home five of the eight gold medals available.
Of course, Korea winning medals at archery isn’t so surprising, but many other nations had strong results, generating expectations for Shanghai and beyond. Asian nations took all the gold at the stage in Antalya last year, and you wouldn’t bet against a repeat of that happening on one of the editions this year.
For the first time in an Asiad, Incheon included a full compound competition was held as well as the recurve event.
The nation of Iran has seen steadily improving results in the compound discipline for a number of years, and Esmaeil EBADI potentially capped a rise by beating out a purpose-built Korean compound squad to Incheon individual gold.
“I am not the same person I was,” Esmaeil said, firmly, in Shanghai. “I am a new man. People see me differently now.”
The boost in confidence is obvious throughout the team, but they intend to keep it grounded in Shanghai: “We’ll treat it like any other tournament – but we will try for a medal, of course.”
The other big story from the Asian Games compound event was the spectacular success of the Indian teams, who had spent months preparing for the competition.
The Indian men snatched Incheon gold from the Korean hosts in a closely-fought contest.
Rajat CHAUHAN and Abhishek VERMA, who were part of that Indian team at the Asian Games, also made the Indian squad for Shanghai – and will be keen for a repeat performance. (Although not against Korea, who did not enter a compound team into Shanghai but will at the worlds in Copenhagen.)
India’s women took two bronze medals in Incheon, and VERMA an individual silver in the men’s final against EBADI. With a medal haul like that, it would be surprising – and disappointing – if the Indian team didn’t go home with something from the Shanghai meet.
India’s recurves, however, left Incheon empty handed – as did Japan, who had put in consistent podium performances throughout last year’s Archery World Cup season and would definitely have been hoping for silverware from one of the nation’s most important events.
The Japanese Shanghai squad is missing a key performer: Ren HAYAKAWA, who is taking “time out” according to the team.
Shanghai hosts China had a good 2014 Asiad, taking home three medals, including… recurve men’s team gold. An event the Korean men had not lost since 1982.
So – in Shanghai – the offseason crescendo reaches its peak. The “Great White Sharks”, for their part, will be keen to ensure the normal order of things is restored. At this Archery World Cup stage they potentially have an opportunity to reclaim the title of top team in Asia.
The Korean women, with two new faces – CHOI Misun and KANG Chae Young – have little time to gel as a team before Olympic qualification at Copenhagen 2015.
Last year’s Asian Games threw up strong recurve runs from lesser-known archery nations like Malaysia and the Philippines, too. Both nations, like Indonesia, Bhutan, Vietnam and North Korea are at Shanghai 2015.
With the Asiad casting a long shadow over this World Cup stage – and this competition perhaps more open than it has been previously – which Asian nations will step up this time around?
Read more about Shanghai 2015.