Korean recurve teams dominate early in Olympic year

15 May 2016
Medellin (COL)
The first outing for Korea’s Olympic teams was a success, culminating in four gold medals in Medellin.

Neither the Korean recurve men’s nor women’s teams surrendered a single set point in victories over Mexico and China, respectively, in gold medal matches at the second stage of the 2016 Hyundai Archery World Cup.

Mexico and Spain took the two recurve team bronze medals in Medellin, in the women’s and men’s events, also in straight-set victories.

Kim Woojin, Ku Bonchan and Lee Seungyun were simply stronger in blustery conditions than Mexico. The Korean group averaged 56 points a set, nearly eight more than their opponents.

With little challenge, the Korean team cruised to a 6-0 win.

Korea’s women caught a break of luck in the opening set of their final. China’s Qi Yuhong put down a seven with her last arrow to hand the first series to the Koreans. She needed a nine to take the two set points.

Choi Misun, Ki Bo Bae and Chang Hye Jin were tighter from then on out.

They put four beautiful 10s down in succession to secure the second set, with 56, and repeated the score in the third to claim the match – 6-0 – and a first international gold medal of the Olympic year.

“We were nervous at the beginning and it was difficult to aim properly,” said Choi.

Chang added that the women were happy to have had success in their first shoot together: “It’s good to win gold and see that things we have tried at home are definitely working for us. All we do is ahead of Rio.”

The Korean men, who have clearly settled into the team mentality, all shot in Medellin with yellow vanes, and Kim and Ku with yellow bows – Lee’s was blue – in an unabashed display of unification, which we haven’t seen out of the men before.

“For me it’s because it’s the colour of the centre of the target,” explained Kim. “And it’s the medal I like the most, the gold. For Ku it’s because he likes it a lot, it’s his favourite colour, and Lee, well, he’s already thinking about changing his bow to yellow, just like us.”

(As an aside: Lee’s nocks were yellow, Kim’s orange and Ku’s red – so the three could still tell them apart in the target.)

“Our main goal at the Olympics is the team, that’s what we’re working on the most. Then, if we keep that work for the individuals, we might win more medals,” said Lee.

The 2013 World Archery Champion was still at high school during the last Olympics.

The team-first approach paid dividends for Choi Misun, who also collected an individual and mixed team gold medals – the latter with Kim Woojin. She was precise in her dismantling of China’s Wu Jiaxin, shooting sets of 29, 28 and 28 to take victory, 6-0.

Korea’s pair did give up one set point to Japan in the mixed team final. Misun and Woojin averaged 38 points a set (four arrows) in the 5-1 win.

Ku Bonchan added a bronze medal in the recurve men’s event.