Korea reclaims full parade of team titles
Korea, so dominant in the discipline at most levels, only won two gold medals in the team and mixed team competitions at the last World Archery Youth Championships in 2013, in Wuxi, China.
Arriving in Yankton, Korea only had the junior mixed team and junior and cadet girls’ individual crowns to defend. The rest, though, were fair game.
The first to fall in Yankton: The recurve cadet world champion titles.
Korea’s girls did not give Turkey a chance in the gold final. Three sets of 55+ points were more than the Turkish girls could manage and the match was over in the minimum time.
“We have a strong trust between us and we know each other very well,” said Lee Gahyun, smiling as she looked at her teammates.
“We are really proud of what our team has achieved here.”
The cadet boys’ match-up was far more testing.
Both Korea and the USA started badly. Anchor Lee Seungjun put his first arrow into the seven – but Korea still took the set.
The States levelled things up after the second, then shot a tight group high left of the 10-ring and went ahead, 4-2, after the third. Korea had a must win fourth-set – and took it, 57-53.
Korea won the shoot-off – but by the skin of their teeth.
Down at the target, a judge needed to referee two line calls on the Korean target – while the USA had a clear 10-10-7. One of Korea’s was upgraded and the boys in white won gold, 10-10-8.
If the second 10 had not been confirmed, the USA might have won the match as one of the home-team’s shafts looked to have landed closer to the middle.
“We were so nervous in the shoot-off,” admitted An Hyojin.
“It was our first time shooting a shoot-off at a youth worlds. It was fun and we enjoyed the experience, but we’re all so glad we didn’t have to go for a second one!”
Two wins from two gold finals.
The cadets’ mixed team title fell in straight sets. China shot a solid game, with 37 or 38 points for each four-arrow series, but Seungjun and Sim Hyeonseung were better every time.
That made three out of three team gold medals at lunchtime – with the same number of team finals to go in the junior events.
Mexico’s junior girls looked immediately competitive as the archery resumed in the afternoon.
Korea’s team weren’t feeling confident: “Before the match, in practice, we weren’t shooting well,” said Lee Eun Gyeong. “At the beginning of the match we were really nervous.”
An unfortunate five in the second set squandered any chance of levelling the match up after Korea took the first series – 55 to 52 – and then the Mexicans opened with an arrow in the six and one in the five in the third.
“When we saw the Mexican team was not shooting so well, the nerves went and we shot great,” added Lee.
Korea took advantage, shooting a 55-point set to seal the win in straight sets.
Four out of four.
Host nation favourites Collin Klimitchek, Zach Garrett and Caleb Miller were the obstacle to Korea’s fifth team gold, in the junior men’s final. Collin and Zach also qualified for the USA senior team in 2015.
The USA started strong, until Miller missed with his second arrow of the first set, to the surprise of the crowd. Korea bagged an easy lead.
A five from the USA in the second set – and it was all too easy for the Asian visitors…
…and all too late for the hosts.
Lee Seungshin’s last-arrow 10 seals a 6-0 victory – and a fifth team title for Korea in Yankton.
The two Lees – Lee Woo Seok, Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Champion, and Lee Eun Gyeong, bronze medallist at those same Games – with a chance to seal a Korean team clean sweep in Yankton if they beat Chinese Taipei in the junior mixed team final.
It was clinical.
The power pair took a four-nil lead in short order. Whether it was the earlier practice in their respective team finals or better preparation, an opening two sets of 37 and 38 was just the start the Koreans needed.
Their third set: 38, and a set split with their opponents.
It was all the Youth Olympians and top individual qualifiers in Yankton needed: 5-1 and the win.
“We have great team spirit,” said Lee (Woo Seok). “We shot with no regrets or worries, just focused solely on the target.”
Lee and Lee secured recurve junior mixed team gold and a complete clean sweep of the team world champion titles for Korea.