Kim Woojin Leads Korean National Team Qualifers in 2016
Kim Woojin first won the World Archery Championships in 2011 at the age of 19. One year later, he dominated the Archery World Cup circuit, taking gold at the Final in Tokyo, but had failed to qualify for the three-man team that would represent Korea at the Olympic Games in London.
Woojin won a second world crown at the 2015 worlds in Copenhagen, but made it clear that his goal was preparing for the Games.
After then winning the test event in October, Woojin’s form is not in question. His biggest hurdle is qualifying for the highly-competitive Korean team that will carry the hopes of archery’s most-decorated Olympic nation.
The 16-athlete shortlists, men and women, for the Korean Olympic squad were cut to just eight each on 22 March. Those 16 archers make up what is referred to as the Korean international squad, who train together throughout the year.
The shortlists consisted of the 16 members of the 2015 squad and the eight next highest men’s and women’s finishers at Korea’s All-Star Tournament at the end of last season.
The event was a 12-round selection shoot, made up of four sets of 36-arrow rounds at 70 metres plus head-to-heads and bonus shoot-off points. Four athletes were eliminated at the halfway point and another four at the end.
Kim Woojin was never in danger.
The world’s number one ranked recurve man finished in the top three in every single phase of the selection tournament, ending up top overall, and securing his place in the Korean squad for 2016.
In second place was three-time Olympian Im Dong Hyun, third came Kim Jongho and 2013 World Archery Champion Lee Seungyun was fourth.
The London 2012 Olympic Champion survived both cuts. After a rough start, Oh Jin Hyek took maximum points in rounds three to six, rising as high as second place during the tournament and crossing the line in sixth.
The man who shot in London 2012 instead of Woojin, along with Im and Oh, Kim Bubmin, did compete in the tournament, but was eliminated when he found himself in 13th place as the field was cut to 12.
Korean Squad – Recurve Men
All four of the Korean recurve women that competed in the international A-Team on the Hyundai Archery World Cup could return in 2016, as all made it into the squad for a second year in a row.
Among them: London 2012 Olympic Champion and Copenhagen 2015 World Archery Champion Ki Bo Bae.
She finished second overall after being down in eighth place at the halfway cut, and was beaten only by world number one Choi Misun to the finish line. Misun and Bo Bae shared the top of the international podium in ’15. While the latter won the worlds, the former took gold at the Archery World Cup Final and the Olympic test event in Rio.
Chang Hye Jin, who was also on the squad in 2015, was third, while Park Mi Kyung, who took team gold at the World Archery Championships in New York in 2003, was fourth.
Kang Chae Young, who made her international on the 2015 team with triple gold at the Archery World Cup stage in Shanghai, looked strong and sat in the top four for much of the selection shoot, but finished badly, dropping to eighth. Still, she made the cut.
Korean Squad – Recurve Women
Decorated international Yun Ok Hee, who had individual bronze and team gold at the Games in Beijing, and also owns a pair of World Cup titles and two team world gold medals, dropped out at the first cut.
Though the 16-strong Korean archery team for 2016 is now set, the nation’s qualification for Rio is not yet complete. Ten more athletes will be cut as the eight men and eight women remaining will be filtered down to six in total.
Normally, Korea sends the top four qualifiers for the team to compete on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit. However, in 2016, that will change.
In Shanghai, Korean recurve interests will be represented by four young men and women from the junior ranks. For the second stages in Medellin and third in Antalya, only the six archers chosen to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will attend.
Those three men and three women will be selected over two tournaments in April. The first takes place on 1-5 April in Yecheon and the second on 15-19 April in Daejeon.
Selection for the Korean compound squad is still underway.