Trending up/down: Stock take after Shanghai
The opening act of the outdoor tour started slowly. It was the usual suspects at the top of the ranking round and little seemed to have changed over the winter hiatus, but as the matches unfolded that changed.
From a tough (and arguably one-sided) compound men’s brackets to dramatic upsets in the recurve competition, especially after Korea’s one-through-four seedings in both men’s and women’s events, here’s a stock take of who’s on an upward trajectory and who needs to reverse their fortunes after stage one in Shanghai.
1. Kazakhstan: If Kazakhstan don‘t feature in the medal table again this year, it won’t matter. Denis Gankin, Oibek Saidiyev and Sanzhar Mussayev did more than just collect their nation’s first ever major international archery medal in Shanghai, but upset the world’s best archery team to do it – and prove that sport is sport, and anyone can win on the day.
And, for the record, Kazakhstan really won that recurve men’s final. Posting a pair of 55+ point sets in breezy conditions and then finding what was necessary in the shoot-off took mettle.
2. Stephan Hansen: The defending World Archery Champion in the compound men’s competition, Hansen had never won a stage on the Hyundai Archery World Cup tour. Heading on for two years since his worlds win, he’s ranked number one in the division, still. No one has successfully defended the compound men’s world title since its introduction in 1995.
3. Team NL: The Netherlands has a small archery factory producing impressive recurve archers. Rick van der Ven and Sjef van den Berg have come fourth at the last two Olympics, in 2012 and 2016, and now international debutant Steve Wijler has a Hyundai Archery World Cup stage gold, after beating the World Archery Champion in the final.
It’ll take a few more events to assess whether Steve’s win was a bit of beginners luck – but we’re guessing not.
In the final, after starting with sets of 29 and 28 points, he wobbled in the third and threw down a seven. Some young men would crumble. Not Steve. He recovered and drilled a perfect 30 to finish.
If the three of them find their form on the same day, that’s one potent recurve men’s team.
1. Korea: There’s absolutely no doubt that Shanghai produced a less-than-expected performance for the Korean recurves. Two of the four top-qualifying women were out by the end of the third round, the women’s team didn’t contest a medal and Kim Woojin lost three finals: individual, mixed team with Chang Hye Jin and men’s team, with Oh Jin Hyek and Im Dong Hyun.
Incredible, then, that Korea was still top of the medal table – not least thanks to its compound results.
As they are skipping Antalya, we’ll see the Korean team next in Salt Lake City, at stage three.
2. Chinese Taipei: Wei Chun-Heng and Tan Ya-Ting did beat Korea to the recurve mixed team gold medal, but outside of that, Chinese Taipei’s performance at the Asian leg of the international circuit was middling.
Tan and Le Chien-Ying made the last 16 of the individual events, but the Olympic bronze medallist recurve women’s team was demolished early by Malaysia after resting through a first-round bye. The men lost their first match, too – and Shanghai ended as an event of unfilled potential, especially considering that the nation doesn’t have an indoor or off season.
3. USA: A couple of rough upsets in the team events has the USA looking for a bounce back tournament, first in Antalya – but, most importantly, on home soil in Salt Lake City.
The compound women, after seeding fifth, fell to 12th-ranked Iran, 221-217, in Shanghai and the second-ranked Olympic silver medallist recurve men were the first to be upset by Kazakhstan.
A strong second-place performance from Mackenzie Brown, Khatuna Lorig and La Nola Shepherd (née Pritchard) and a bronze won by the compound men did keep the USA on the team podiums – but after solid qualification scores they would have wanted and expected more.
Also considered: Iranian compound men, Russian compound women
The first stage of the 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup took place on 16 to 21 May in Shanghai, China.