South Korea’s archery queens assumed their traditional place at the top of the ranking round for the London Games on Friday, but the US pushed them close and may feel this is the year to end the Asian powerhouse’s Olympic dominance, while Taiwan was ranked third.
Hours after South Korea’s men set individual and world records in the 72 arrow ranking round, Ki Bo-bae, Lee Sung-jin and Choi Hyeon-ju posted 1,993 points out of a possible 2,160.
Each arrow can score a maximum of 10 points for hitting the center of a target 70m away.
Ki and Lee both shot 671, as did Taiwan’s Tan Ya-ting, while the US’ Khatuna Lorig shot 669 in fourth. The scores gave South Korea the top team ranking, followed by the US, Taiwan and Mexico.
South Korea’s women have been the dominant force in archery for more than 20 years, winning 12 of the last 13 gold medals, with only China’s Zhang Juanjuan denying them a perfect record by winning the individual title in Beijing.
However, the gap between them and the rest of the world has been narrowing, thanks in part to Korean coaches plying their trade around the world and growing global interest in the sport, particularly in the US.
In archery, as with any sport, a team is only as strong as its weakest link, and South Korea’s Choi struggled on her Olympic debut.
“It was her first Olympics so she was nervous,” Korea coach Jang Young-sool said. “She will build up her confidence and get stronger. To be in 38th after the halfway stage was not very good. The most important thing is the posture, but because of the pressure of the Olympics, she made a lot of mistakes. She was thinking about these things and that unsettled her.”
The US, under the guidance of acclaimed Korean coach Lee Ki-sik, have risen steadily up the world rankings and with five-time Olympian Lorig anchoring a team that also includes Miranda Leek and Jennifer Nichols, they are definitely in the medal hunt.
“We’re absolutely satisfied, we did really well today, some ups and downs, but in general we did well,” said Lorig, who coached actress Jennifer Lawrence on how to shoot for the film The Hunger Games. “I just want to start with one shot each time and see what happens. We all want the gold medal, if not we’ll get silver, we’ll take bronze, any medal, but gold would be good.”
The women’s team finals take place today at Lord’s Cricket Ground.