USA compound archers Gellenthien, Strachan to shoot for individual titles in Shanghai
Compound archers from the USA will contest both the individual men’s and women’s titles at the second stage of the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Shanghai after Braden Gellenthien and Sophia Strachan won their semifinal matches in Yuanshen Stadium. Alexis Ruiz and recurve shooter Brady Ellison made bronze medal matches.
It is the second consecutive stage at which Gellenthien will shoot in the compound men’s final, having lost gold to Dutch world number one Mike Schloesser in Medellin.
“I had a small equipment mistake I made there and I’m not going to make that mistake this weekend. I’m just going to continue to focus on my controllables and go for the best,” said Braden.
He’ll face 21-year-old Brend Frederickx of Belgium in the final in Shanghai.
“He’s a newcomer. The brackets today were shredded. We saw a lot of people lose that you weren’t expecting to lose and other people capitalised on mistakes,” said Gellenthien, the current world number two. “But I’m not going to take anything for granted, I’m just going to come out and do what I can.”
Frederickx is making his Hyundai Archery World Cup debut in Shanghai. He seeded 11th and took advantage of a side of the brackets that lost its favourites early in the eliminations.
Third-ranked Kris Schaff – the reigning Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion – lost his first match and number two seed Choi Yonghee was upset by the 47th-place qualifier, Akbarali Karabayev, in the fourth round.
Both Alexis Ruiz and Sophia Strachan made the final four in the compound women’s event.
Ruiz had upset favourite Tanja Jensen in the quarterfinals for the spot and led for much of her semi against So Chaewon of Korea. But with the pair tied after the regulation 15 arrows, Chaewon got the better of the shoot-off.
“She shot first. I couldn’t hear the ‘10’ from the USA coach. I was thinking easy, just easy, it just needs to be a 10, not an X,” said So.
She shot a 10, just inside the line, and it was enough.
Strachan emerged best of the bottom half of the brackets that, like the men’s event, lost its top seeds early. She beat Luo Sha of China, 146-140, in their semifinal.
It is only the third time the host nation of the Shanghai stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup has fielded a compound squad. China previously did so at this event in 2006 and 2009.
Unlike the recurve archers, the Chinese compound shooters in Shanghai – including Luo – are amateur rather than professional.
And unlike the majority of the Korean archers, So Chaewon began the sport, just six or so years ago, as an amateur, too. (Most athletes from Korea begin shooting at a young age in school and progress from there into university or professional team structures.)
“My friend suggested that I did archery with her [at an after-school club] because she didn’t want to do it alone,” explained Chaewon. “Now, I’m really grateful for that friend.”
Having quickly become one of the highest-scoring compound women on the circuit, the world number nine has a chance at her first individual gold medal at a stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup.
But so does Strachan, in her first year as a member of the USA senior team.
The college junior studies economics and linguistics in New York. Interestingly, one of the two languages she’s covering as part of her schoolwork is Korean. (The other is Spanish.)
“I’ve never shot the World Cups so I was just thinking of it as getting international experience and stuff,” said Strachan.
“I wasn’t thinking specifically I was going to make the finals. So it’s an awesome surprise that I did. Now, I’ll just keep practising, try to keep my head on straight and when it’s time, I’ll shoot my bow.”
The second stage of the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup takes place on 6-12 May in Shanghai, China.