Salt Lake 2017: Recurve finals predictions
The third stage of this year’s tour in Salt Lake City sees the return of the Korean recurves to the finals arena after a disappointing showing at the first stop in Shanghai and missing out a trip to Antalya altogether.
While junior Alicia Marin made her very-first medal match on the circuit, Tan Ya-Ting and Wei Chun-Heng continue to defend Chinese Taipei’s 2017 hot streak.
Recurve men’s gold final:
IM DONG HYUN / KIM WOOJIN
Two World Archery Champions, two Olympic team medallists and two world-record breaking Korean archers clash for Salt Lake gold in the day’s headline match.
“Woojin has gotten a lot of experience during the past few years, he’s in good form and he’s a strong opponent. But I also have experience and I’m doing well, feeling good. I think it will be 50/50,” said Im after making the finals.
The pair are incredibly-well balanced. Over the last 24 months, both Im and Kim’s tournament average arrow is 9.49 points; Kim’s win percentage is 80%, Im’s 79% – and Woojin’s best ranking round score is the current world record, at 700, which beat Im’s previous world record of 699 by a point.
In the past seven years Kim and Im have met four times in international competition. Im won the first one, Kim the last three. Still, the reigning World Archery Champion is not content: “I’m not shooting well, I’m not happy with my scores. I need to train more, train harder to continue on top.”
Recurve men’s bronze final:
MARCUS D’ALMEIDA / WEI CHUN-HENG
The darling of the host nation for Rio 2016 after coming second at the 2014 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final and Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, D’Almeida had a disappointing Olympic campaign and admitted afterwards he was worn out.
It hasn’t taken long for him to recover form, making his second-ever medal match on the international tour after Wroclaw 2014. He’s never medalled, though.
Against Wei Chun-Heng it won’t be easy. The world number eight is still just 22 years old, on the rise, and posted a personal-best 690 on the ranking round this year. He’s only finished on the podium individually once previously, taking a bronze at Shanghai 2016.
Recurve women’s gold final:
CHANG HYE JIN / TAN YA-TING
The Rio 2016 Olympic Champion has been sublime from start to finish in Salt Lake City.
Coming within striking distance of breaking the world record for the recurve women’s ranking round early in the competition week, she continued her high-level showing through the brackets, dropping just four set points through four matches.
Over a nine-year international career, 23-year-old Tan Ya-Ting has never won a Hyundai Archery World Cup stage – though has taken a number of podium finishes.
Her Chinese Taipei recurve women’s team finished third at Rio 2016, two spots below Chang’s winning Korea team after being knocked out by them in the semifinals. Head-to-head, individually, they’ve only faced each other once – for bronze in Antalya in 2016 – which Tan won.
But, right now, it’s the Olympic Champion who’s on fire.
Advantage: Hye Jin
Recurve women’s bronze final:
CHOI MISUN / ALICIA MARIN
A first-time Hyundai Archery World Cup stage finalist Spain’s Marin takes on the world number four, a multiple gold medallist on the tour.
On paper, this is Choi Misun’s match: Over the last 24 months, the Korean archer’s average arrow is significantly higher, 9.37 to 8.78, and win percentage dominating, at 84% to 55%. But Marin, in Salt Lake, posted her highest qualification seeding – 7th – to date and had impressive wins over Cao Hui and Aida Roman before only losing to Tan Ya-Ting in a shoot-off.
This will be closer than might be expected.
The third stage of the 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup runs 20 to 25 June in Salt Lake City, USA.