Top-qualifier So Chaewon says medal match experience makes her stronger

26 February 2019
The Korean compound woman has shot world-leading 709-point ranking rounds for the past two years.

So Chaewon has quickly become a staple of the Korean compound women’s team.

She and World Archery Champion Song Yun Soo also represent Hyundai Mobis – one of the professional teams that regularly travels during the indoor season.

Twenty-one-year-old So took silver at the Nimes Archery Tournament and finished runner-up to Sara Lopez in the championship shootdown in Vegas. That was after the pair became only the fourth and fifth women in the event’s 53-year history to score perfect 900s.

“I’m satisfied with this Indoor World Series. It was quite different from outdoors. It was refreshing for me in the winter season,” said Chaewon.

The format of the Vegas Shoot plays into the world number six’s strengths.

She has shot the top ranking round scores of all compound women in international competition for the past two consecutive years, both 709s.

A regular on the world circuit over that period, it took a while for Chaewon to break onto the podium.

She first climbed it at the Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Shanghai to open the 2018 season, taking bronze, and followed up with a second bronze in Antalya – and a third at the 2018 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Samsun.

“It is hard to get used to shooting finals,” said Chaewon.

“But now I’m getting to know how to control myself much easier. Each experience makes me gradually stronger.”

Her per-arrow average score is a point in every 10 arrows higher in qualification than matchplay – and at 9.75, it is also world-leading.

But in head-to-head competition, So’s scores match up similarly to her peers.

“In a qualification round, I can recover my mistakes because I have plenty of arrows. But I feel more nervous in matchplay. One mistake could mean direct failure,” she said.

The compound women’s competition has become increasingly interesting in recent years.

Sara Lopez has remained dominant – but the emergence of Danish duo Sarah Sonnichsen and Tanja Jensen, and Turkey’s Yesim Bostan finding some consistency has made the top spot in the division far from secure.

Chaewon, who has not yet fulfilled the medal potential her talent belies, seems most likely to join that group in the conversation for world number one.

She’s determined to showcase that talent in 2019.

“I want to show how much I am improved,” she said.

“I want to win the first prize at an international competition. It would be perfect to win at the world championships – but first of all, I have to be in the national squad again.”

The notoriously gruelling selection process for the Korean compound team takes place in March.