Korea beats Olympic Champs to men’s team gold
Korea beat the reigning Olympic Champion Italians – featuring two returning archers, Michele Frangilli and Mauro Nespoli, from that London 2012 squad – to the recurve men’s team gold medal in Copenhagen.
The match was over in a flash: Three sets of 54, 55 and 58 translated into three set wins and a 6-0 victory.
For Oh Jin Hyek, the current individual Olympic Champion who lost in the first round at these worlds, the title was a welcome finish to a worlds campaign he described as “challenging”.
“These championships have been the most difficult event for me to date,” said Oh. “Even though I trained a lot before coming here, I couldn’t control the weather and it made it difficult. The individual match was my most challenging international match ever.”
The Italian team had won three shoot-offs to qualify for the gold medal match. In one, they became the first team to win a match after a measurement on the third of three arrows closest to the middle. (The first two were found to be exactly the same distance from the centre!)
On the finals field, Frangilli, Nespoli and David Pasqualucci struggled.
Their first set included an arrow landing in the six – and though their back two both totaled 54, it wasn’t enough to put a dent in the Korean’s quickly expanding lead.
Kim Woojin – who shoots for individual gold during the afternoon session – seemed to have already moved past these championships and has his sights set on a bigger prize.
“Rio 2016 would be the first time for me to make it to the Olympics,” he said, though he still has to go through the tough Korean selection process. “I believe I can make it there and win a gold medal, maybe.”
He’ll need to focus on his individual final against Dutchman Rick van der Ven first – especially as he was the Korean team’s lowest scorer. First up on the line in each three-arrow series, he put his first three arrows into the red.
On the other hand, shooting second in the order, Ku Bonchan did not miss the 10-ring.
Korea’s recurve women also collected a podium finish. They faced Japan in the bronze medal match in a replay of the gold medal match at the Antalya World Cup stage final in May, where Japan won 6-2.
“We wanted to beat them here,” admitted Ki Bo Bae.
Bronze was not the colour of medal the Korean recurve women were aiming for after arriving the Copenhagen 2015 World Championships as the defending champions from Belek 2013 – and reigning Olympic Champion team.
Korea was top seed in the Copenhagen 2015 team event but were upset by Russia in the semis after a shoot-off.
Leaving the Danish capital without a medal in the recurve women’s team event would have been embarrassing for the dominant recurve team.
The Korean women took the match to heart and won the first set, 56-54, despite dropping one arrow from their first six into the eight. They then tied the second set with Japan’s Kaori Kawanaka, Saori Nagamine and Yuki Hayashi for a 3-1 lead on set points.
Ki, Kang and Choi hit the 10-ring five times – adding one nine - in the third set for a strong 59 out of 60 points – to claim the bronze medal in three sets.
“For the first time, we couldn’t control the weather, it was difficult for us to understand the wind, but the result is good as we got a team bronze medal,” said Ki Boe Bae, adding she still hoped to take gold in the individual final, the major title the Olympic Champion is missing, scheduled later in the day.
Bo Bae’s teammate Choi Misun is up for individual bronze.
“My two teammates say these championships are a valuable experience,” said Bo Bae, explaining that Copenhagen is Misun and Chae Young’s first appearance at a worlds. “But for me, it’s stressful!"
Perhaps the Olympic Champion feels the pressure ahead of her own big medal match.