Korea looks to continue decades of dominance in archery
Team Korea is practically invincible when it comes to archery.
Overall, Korea has won 39 Olympic medals, 23 of which are gold. The United States trails in second with just 14 gold medals. In fact, Korea is so dominant that the women’s team has won every women’s event since they joined the Olympics in 1988 in Seoul.
At Rio, Korea swept the podium winning gold in all four events — men’s and women’s team and individual.
Three berths for men and three for women are available for each country competing at the games, with Team Korea holding the maximum six spots.
Korea's six athletes will be participating in five events, up from the usual four thanks to the addition of a mixed team event.
Kim Woo-jin, Oh Jin-hyek and Kim Je-deok will represent Korea in the men’s events, while Kang Chae-young, Jang Min-hee and An San will compete in the women’s events.
The highest ranking female and male archer from the individual ranking rounds, the very first archery event, will form the mixed team. That means one archer could take three gold medals in Tokyo.
Korea's dominance at the Olympics is fueled by how competitive the sport is domestically, with the Korean national archery squad qualifications said to be one of the most competitive events in the sport globally.
All archers, regardless of their current rank or career medals, compete on a level playing field at the national team qualifications. The Olympic entry list is based solely on the 4,055 shots made during the qualifying season. As a result, different archers often represent Korea at the Olympics.
At Tokyo, four out of six archers will be making their Olympic debuts.
Seventeen-year-old Kim Je-deok beat Lee Seung-yun, the gold medalist in the men’s team event in Rio, to earn a spot in Tokyo. If Kim wins at the Games, he will be the youngest Korean archer ever to win a medal.
All three female archers — Kang, Jang and An — will also make their Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Kang is currently No.1 in the world in women’s archery, and has been since June 2019. She failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics as she was pushed back to fourth place by just one point on the last day. Jang Hye-jin ended in third place, going on to become a two-time medalist in Rio.
This time, Kang returned with a vengeance and finished first in the second round of the national team qualifications.
Having swept gold at all three events — women’s individual, women’s team and the mixed team event — at the 2019 Asian Archery Championships, the 24-year-old archer is more than ready to earn her first Olympic gold medal.
The archery competition will begin with the women's individual ranking round. The first gold medal opportunity will come on July 24, with the mixed team medal match. Women's team medals will be awarded on July 25, men's team medals on July 26, women's individual medals on July 30 and men's individual medals on July 31.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]