Woojin wins second world title in Copenhagen

Kim Woojin was 4-0 down to 98th seed Oibek Saidiyev in his first round match at the Copenhagen 2015 World Archery Championships.

He rallied, recovered and forced a shoot-off – which the Korean promptly won.

That trap match passed, Woojin cruised through the next two elimination phases before beating seventh seed Brady Ellison, from the USA, in the quarters then Venezuela’s Elias Malave in the semis.

His gold medal match would be against Rick van der Ven, fourth finisher at the London 2012 Olympics and ninth at the worlds two years previously in Turkey.

Despite Rick putting just one arrow – his second – out of the gold through the first two sets, the Dutchman quickly found himself on the wrong end of a 4-0 set point scoreline. He shot 27 and then 28 set scores, each one point less than Woojin.

The next set was split 27-all and Rick scored his first set points of the match.

If there was ever a perfect time to shoot a perfect 30, it’s in the moment that keeps you alive in a World Archery Championship gold medal match. Rick chose his moment, put two arrows in the 10 and one in the X-ring, right in the centre of the target and 10-ring for that 30-point set.

He didn’t bank on Woojin matching him shaft for shaft.

Kim dropped an X, then a 10. Twenty points to match Rick’s 20 at two of three arrows in the fourth set shot. After Rick’s final 10, Woojin could still win the match – by drawing the fourth set and taking the split set points that would take him from 5-1 to 6-2 and a second world title.

Cool under pressure, Kim Woojin did exactly that.

An X10 to draw the set, split the set points and win the match – and the tournament.

“It was a difficult match, very tight, very hard,” said Woojin. “Rick shot really well and made it hard.”

“I’m glad it went on my side. It took me four years to win this title again and I think it’s a good thing to get ahead of the Olympics.”

Kim Woojin famously won the 2011 worlds before missing out on the Korean team for the London 2012 Olympic Games and then returning to win the Archery World Cup Final in 2012.

He did say the team match, in which he won team gold with Korea, helped in the final: “Shooting in the morning made me more confident later in the day.”

The silver medal marked Rick van der Ven’s first individual podium at a senior World Archery Championships. His previous results include team runner-up at the worlds in Belek in 2013, an Archery World Cup Final bronze at Lausanne 2014 and a junior silver at the ’09 youth worlds.

The recurve men’s bronze medal match was between Japan’s Olympic silver medallist Takaharu Furukawa and, Olympian at London 2012 as well, Elias Malave – from Venezuela.

Experience spoke in favour of 30-year-old Furukawa, though his previous best worlds finish was 11th at Leipzig 2007.

Seeded eighth in Copenhagen, Furukawa beat top seed Mauro Nespoli 6-0 during the eliminations but then lost to van der Ven in the semis in straight sets.

Malave’s first arrow of the bronze medal match was a seven and he lost the first set to Furukawa 29-25. The advantage was quickly switched as the Venezuelan upped his game and took the lead, 4-2.

Three arrows from victory, Elias shot just 26 points in the fourth set to level the match at 4-4 and then let Furukawa get away with a seven in the fifth.

Needing a nine or 10 to win bronze, Malave posted an eight to send the match to a tiebreaker.

Furukawa was shooting first in the tie-break, and with a perfect shot, put pressure on his contender. Malave could not rise to the challenge and abandoned his grasp on the medal, shooting an eight.

“I had a lot of luck,” Furukawa conceded. “In the fifth set I shot seven and I thought it was all over, but my opponent shot an eight and it was a shoot-off. I was just lucky to win!”

Entering these world championships, Elias Malave had not shot on the world stage since July 2013. His reappearance ended with a finals appearance.

“In the shoot-off things didn’t go on my side, but I’m happy,” Malave said.

“After a year of absence, Venezuela is back in force and hopefully we will be able to attend more events like these ahead of Rio 2016.”