Dutch archer Wijler makes Shanghai final in international debut

19 May 2017
Shanghai (CHN)
The newest member of the Dutch team beat three-time Olympic medallist Im Dong Hyun in the semis.

The Netherland’s Steve Wijler defeated two-time Olympic team Champion Im Dong Hyun to make the Shanghai recurve men final against reigning World Archery Champion Kim Woojin in a dramatic debut on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit.

“I didn’t expect to make the finals but I’m very proud of it,” said Steve. “The match against Im Dong Hyun makes me feel confident for the final but also very nervous.”

Wijler, seeded 19th after the ranking round with 664 out of a possible 720 points, is into his first ever international season with the senior squad and, consequently, has just ticked off a long list of firsts: It’s his first Hyundai Archery World Cup event, match, senior match win, first Korean beaten and first guaranteed world-level medal.

He dispatched India’s Indrachand Swami, Malaysia’s Khairul Mohamad, Korea’s Kim Jongho and, then, Atanu Das of India in a one-arrow shoot-off before meeting Im Dong Hyun in the semis.

Steve and Dong Hyun split the first set as both opened with 27 points – then again split the second, both with 29.

In the third set, the 20-year-old Dutch archer shot a perfect 30 against Im’s 29 to edge ahead. Im shot 27 in the fourth, while Steve posted another 30 to take the match.

“I wasn’t really thinking who I was shooting against. I realised that if I want to win the competition I have to beat everyone no matter who they are or what they have done. This is my first time on the senior team at a world cup stage and I’m really enjoying it,” he said.

Dong Hyun said nerves played a big role in the loss - and since the start of matchplay – as it had been a while since he’d experienced the international competition atmosphere. The last time Im was in a final was in 2015 as part of the back-up (as opposed to primary) Korean team in Medellin.

“It’s been long since the last time I was on the national team and it has made me a lot more nervous in competition,” said Im. “I’m getting better in getting used to the environment, the shooting and even the pressure it brings, but this start definitely gives me confidence for the rest of the season.”

While Steve shoots against Kim Woojin for gold, Im will contest bronze with Rio 2016 fourth-place finisher Sjef Van den Berg.

The first stage of the 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup runs 16 to 21 May in Shanghai, China.