Maja JAGER: the move behind the world title

Maja JAGER caught everyone by surprise at Belek/Antalya 2013, when she won the world championships – upsetting Korea’s top archers KI Bo Bae and YUN Ok Hee on the way. The unexpected title came less than a year after JAGER made a drastic relocation.

After many visits to KIM Hyung Tak’s famous Archery Centre in Goesan, she made a plan. (KIM is one of the most successful archery coach gurus ever. He was Korea’s coach at the 1984 Olympics and went to the 1992 Barcelona games as head coach of Chinese Taipei.) Coach KIM and the Danish archery federation arranged for two archers to move to Korea to train full-time for Rio 2016.

Maja JAGER and Johan WEISS made the move.

“I couldn’t say no to the opportunity,” says Maja. She made the move a little over a year ago. Besides training, she’s been studying Korean and has now enrolled onto a Computer System Engineering course at Jungwon University.

While in Korea, though, Maja’s main focus is archery. The 22 year old is shooting for her university in a system made to prioritise the sport, offering huge flexibility to her studies. She dedicates most of her time to practise, even Sundays – and some classes JAGER doesn’t have to attend in favour of training.

It would be impossible to train like this in Denmark – as universities don’t give dispensation to athletes training. And in Korea, JAGER takes advice from one of the best coaches in the world – every day – while in Denmark the national coach was only available once or twice a week.

“Coach KIM is fantastic, he knows about every aspect of the game and has a really good sense of analysing and technique. It’s very easy to understand what he’s trying to get you to do.”

JAGER made lots of technique changes over the last year, more than she can remember. Her grip on the string moved to make her release faster and cleaner – and it improved her scores a lot.

“I definitely wouldn’t have won the World Championships if not for the move to Korea,” she says.

Besides the best conditions to improve her archery, Maja has also fallen in love with the country and its people. And she plans to stay there for some time: at least three and a half years to complete her studies.

This week is JAGER’s first tournament of the year after sitting out the indoor season. She hasn’t set any goals for Shanghai, because it’s her first event since Belek.

“Now I know that I can make it to the top. The world title definitely increased my confidence. But I don’t expect to win here. It’s more about getting the feel of competition again.”

Maja JAGER is competing at the first stage of the 2014 Archery World Cup in Shanghai this week.

Maja JAGER   Denmark
Recurve woman   World ranking: 18

Born: 22 December 1991
Best world ranking: 12 (August 2011)

World championships: World Champion Belek/Antalya 2013, team bronze
Olympic Games: London 2012 top 8