9 things we learnt this Hyundai Archery World Cup season

The 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup season came to a fitting close in Rome, Italy on 2/3 September, when Kim Woojin, Ki Bo Bae, Braden Gellenthien and Sara Lopez were crowned circuit champions in the Stadio dei Marmi.

From mental struggles to incredible scores and victory roars, here’s a few things that we learnt over the course of the four stages and grand finale of the international tour in 2017.

1. Consistency

It’s impressive to research an athlete’s past results and see they’ve not been outside the top 10 for a while – but Korea’s Kim Woojin goes way better than that. He finished second, second, first and first at the three circuit stages and Final in which he competed in 2017.

In fact, through 12 Hyundai Archery World Cup events since the start of the 2014 season, he’s finished off the podium only twice and never lower than fifth (at Odense 2016). That level of consistency is incredible.

Woojin is the recurve men’s favourite for the worlds in Mexico City – and a third world title before the age of 26 would be quite incredible.

2. It’s not over

Demir Elmaagacli, Yesim Bostan, Alejandra Valencia and Deepika Kumari were all square out of the qualification zone arriving in Berlin for stage four. It was only off the back of strong performances at that last leg that they were all invited to Rome.

It’s not over until the last arrow.

3. Pro panic

All season long, World Archery Champion Stephan Hansen talked about struggles with his trigger release aid in the finals arena. He swapped to it early in the year to try and find greater precision in medal matches, but couldn’t always keep it in line.

“I shot [terribly] in the [Berlin] final because I couldn’t control my trigger,” he said in Rome before his quarterfinal: “This time I'm going to shoot a back tension. I never have problems with it – touch wood! It might not be quite as accurate, but it might just lose me one point, which will probably be enough.”

Hansen finished second to an on-fire Gellenthien at the Final, but the real lesson to learn for anyone struggling with target panic is: You are not alone.

4. The underdog

Kazakhstan’s recurve men produced probably the best match of the year when they upset Korea at stage one in Shanghai. A stark reminder that it’s not seed or world ranking that wins a match, but arrows in the middle.

5. What Olympic hangover?

The year after the Games, a season in which change arrives across the board and a new wave of athletes take to the podium – or so we thought back in March. But, in the end, only two newcomers rose to the challenge.

Steve Wijler came from nowhere to win his debut Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Shanghai and then, in Antalya, Chen Hsiang-Hsuan took Chinese Taipei’s first compound title on the circuit. 

6. GOAT?

GOAT = Greatest Of All Time. And Sara Lopez is probably already it in the compound women’s division.

Yes, her incredible winning streak ended at 31 matches and, yes, she did lose her world number one ranking in 2017 after holding it for an incredible 1033 days – but she also fought hard to secure her third Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion title to close out the season.

With the World Games title she took in Wroclaw, she’s only a world title away from completing the silverware set, and she’s only 22.

7. Score of the season:

Chang Hye Jin beating everyone, including the men, over the Salt Lake City ranking round. She had 683 – and probably should have broken the world record – while Im Dong Hyun, the top recurve man, was three points adrift.

8. One more arrow

The best quote of the year? The secret to practising well, according to Ki Bo Bae? “Shoot one more arrow than everyone else.” 

The London 2012 Olympic Champion embodied that attitude when, during a familiarisation session marred by storm clouds, she remained out in the Rome arena when all her competitors had long since departed.

She went on to win gold, her third Hyundai Archery World Cup crown, in front of her new fiancee and his family. 

9. Like a lion

Although he didn’t rack up his fifth circuit win in Rome, Brady Ellison still has the best victory roar around. (And remains the all-time leader with four career Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion crowns.)

The Hyundai Archery World Cup returns for its 13th season in 2018.