Choi Misun choreographs show in Rio’s carnival stadium

“I’m happy with my performance today. From the start I had a good pace, so I was confident with my shooting,” said Choi Misun, after walking from the competition field and a near-perfect performance that saw her take gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic test event.

Choi Misun’s average arrow score through her last two matches was 9.62. Her international competition average arriving in Rio was 9.37.

She won her semifinal in straight sets and the gold medal match, against Chinese Taipei’s Tan Ya-Ting, in four – putting just four of her 12 arrows in the final out of the 10-ring.

Misun qualified in third, behind teammates Ki Bo Bae and Kang Chae Young, and beat three-time Archery World Cup Final silver medallist Deepika Kumari during eliminations matchplay. She was the last remaining Korean woman in the competition after Chae Young lost a five-set battle to Ukraine’s Anastasia Pavlova in the second round and Olympic Champion Bo Bae dropped out in the quarterfinals.

In that match, and despite Ki leading 5-1, the Korean winner of London 2012 let Tan Ya-Ting force a shoot-off after winning the last two sets. She shot first, but put her arrow low and to the right, in the seven. Tan won the tiebreaker with an eight.

“I don’t know what happened. I thought it was going to be a good score,” said a pragmatic Ki Bo Bae.

Despite the loss, she was soon at the edge of the field lending her support, along with the rest of the team, to Choi Misun as she carried Korea’s hopes of an individual women’s winner at the Aquece Rio International Archery Challenge.

“All the team cheered me on. It was good confidence booster for me as I was the only one still shooting from the Korean team. It was a little bit of a burden, but I tried to overcome that burden,” said Misun.

The 19-year-old athlete did not disappoint, putting in a sublime performance to win the first individual medal to be awarded in Rio de Janeiro’s famous carnival venue and the arena for the Rio 2016 Olympic archery competition. Misun had already picked up team gold with Bo Bae and Chae Young, earlier in the week.

“I practised a lot for this test event and for the real Rio Olympics next year. I’m going to put a lot of effort in to make the next Olympics and hopefully be on the podium at the Games,” said Misun.

The Korean athlete said the test event would prove invaluable in that quest, as it had given her the opportunity to adjust to the wind environment and hot sun, which she admitted to struggling with after she arrived in the country, she said: “Being here was a great opportunity ahead of Rio 2016.”

Mackenzie Brown, the 10th seed in the competition, took bronze at the Olympic test event. She beat Kawanaka Kaori of Japan, 7-1, in the third-place playoff.

“It’s really exciting. I’m really happy with how I’ve been shooting from Poland on. I just came out here and shot really good,” said Mackenzie.

“My semifinals match, I shot really good shots, but they just didn’t hit where I wanted them to. I came out here and shot in the gold, shot the same shots and aimed a little bit better.”

The Team USA athlete and first-time Archery World Cup Finalist in 2015 surrendered a single set point in the second and outscored her opponent through the other three sets.

Brown did say the venue was a little windier than in the earlier stages of the competition, and hot on the stage with the reflections from the stands, but that she liked the finals arena a lot.

“This gives me more motivation going into next year, especially going into our trials, to keep shooting, to keep training really hard. More practice,” Mackenzie added. “You can always be stronger, you can always go out and do better.”