Olympic archery power rankings: June 2021
Welcome back to World Archery’s power rankings for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Throughout the outdoor season, our stable of writers will assess the field of recurve archers in contention to track who stands the best chance of cresting the podium in July.
We are less than two months away from the Games now, and just as the recent European Championships were the penultimate opportunity for archers to qualify for the Olympics, this will be the penultimate edition of these rankings.
The last chance to qualify for the Olympics comes in less than two weeks, when three men’s team and three women’s team quotas – plus all the leftover individual spots – will be awarded at the final world qualification tournament in Paris, just ahead of the third stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup, which is also taking place in France.
But that’s a story for another day. Here are 10 archers – five men and five women – who we think stand the best chance of winning Olympic titles at Tokyo 2020.
1. Brady Ellison, USA (previous rank: 2)
Ellison restored order to the archery universe last month by reclaiming his spot atop the podium at the second leg of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne. He finds himself number one in our power rankings as well, after having earned his official selection to represent the USA in Tokyo. His performance in May offers assurance that he is every bit the contender that observers thought he would be after his immense season in 2019.
2. Kim Woojin, Korea (previous rank: 1)
Woojin offered reassurance of his preparedness for the Games at leg one of the Gwangju 2021 Asia Cup, shooting an Asian record for qualification of 697 points. Concerns over Korea’s decision to stay home until Tokyo only go so far – but the Olympics is won in matchplay, not on the ranking field, and Kim will still be keen to wipe the bad taste from Rio firmly from his mouth.
3. Mete Gazoz, Turkey (previous rank: 4)
Gazoz rewarded our faith in putting him on the previous two editions of this list by finally securing his quota place to the Games at the penultimate opportunity to do so in Antalya last week. With his ticket now booked, the world number two will look to further confirm the lofty expectations set for him when he competes in the second Olympics of his young career.
4. Oh Jin Hyek, Korea (previous rank: 3)
The cowboy-esque story of Jin Hyek’s final hurrah is a great one. The reality is, though, while he is always a medal contender, he’s going to have to pull something unbelievable out of the bag to win Tokyo – and he’s not the favourite on his own team.
5. Mauro Nespoli, Italy (previously unranked)
This spot could have remained with Atanu Das, gone to new European Champion Pablo Acha, Korean youngster Kim Je Deok or even Nicholas D’Amour, after his final four appearance in Lausanne – although a medal would really have solidified his case for attention. So why does Nespoli, who didn’t medal in his single international this season – in Switzerland – edge it? Well, he qualified top, he looks in form and, of late, has put it together when it matters.
Dropping out: Atanu Das, India (previous rank: 5)
1. Kang Chae Young, Korea (previous rank: 1)
Korea continues to receive the benefit of the doubt with regards to its decision to forgo all three stages of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup. Even if she’s lost her world number one ranking due to international inactivity, Kang is still the woman to beat when the world’s best converge on Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Japan.
2. An San, Korea (previous rank: 2)
An San continues to impress, having qualified with the top seed at the Gwangju 2021 Asia Cup on her way to facing teammate Jang Minhee in the gold medal match (Chae Young won bronze) in Korea’s first international event in more than 12 months. The world number four could very well be the archer to extend Korea’s run of golds in Tokyo.
3. Deepika Kumari, India (previous rank: 3)
Kumari hasn’t competed since winning individual gold at the season opener, but, like her husband, a final international tournament in Paris will go a long way toward preparing her for Japan. India hasn’t been shy about its impatience to win its first Olympic archery medal, and no one will feel that burden more than Kumari. Her performance in Guatemala was so impressive, she won’t relinquish this spot without a fight.
4. Lisa Barbelin, France (previously unranked)
It would feel wrong not to include the newest world number one in our power rankings after Barbelin secured her quota place to the Olympics and won the recurve women’s title at the 2021 European Championships in Antalya. The 21-year-old from France doesn’t have the resume of the Koreans at the top of our list, nor can she match Kumari’s longevity, but she’s shot as well as anyone so far this season.
5. Wu Jiaxin, China (previous rank: 4)
Reigning World Archery Champion Lei Chien-Ying of Chinese Taipei, who has been similarly quiet in the lead-up to the Games, could have just as easily appeared here, but Wu gets the nod simply because we have more news – and it’s exceptionally positive. It will be fascinating to see how each country’s respective approach to travel restrictions this season affects who takes gold in Japan.
Dropping out: Lei Chien-Ying, Chinese Taipei (previous rank: 5)