Kim Woojin eyes redemption in Tokyo

Kim Woojin shoots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Ousted prematurely from the individual men’s event the last time around, Korean archer Kim Woojin has his sights set on making amends for his shocking exit in Rio with an individual gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

After breaking the qualifying world record by a single point to open the Games in Rio and anchoring the recurve men’s team to the Olympic title, the hot favourite for double gold crashed out in the second round of the individual event to Indonesia’s Riau Salsibilla, leaving himself a mixed Olympic legacy.

The top recurve men’s qualifier for the Korean national team in 2021, there are high expectations on two-time World Archery Champion in Tokyo.

“I really prepared well, especially with one extra year to practise," Kim said this week from Yumenoshima Park Archery Field. “There are so many variables, so I’ll just do my best and hope that I can perform just like how I’ve practised.”

Kim, 2012 Olympic Champion Oh Jin Hyek and 17-year-old phenom Kim Je Deok comprise the Korean recurve men’s team in Tokyo.

Five years ago, Kim, Ku Bonchan and Lee Seungyun routed the USA to win the team title in Rio and restore a dynasty broken by Italy in London four years prior to that. 

The USA, led by world number one Brady Ellison, enter Tokyo as perhaps Korea’s biggest threat to duplicating in Tokyo. Both teams have a claim on the title – and could very well meet in the gold medal match.

Kim Woojin after shock second-round defeat at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“He’s a world-renowned athlete and he’s maintained his position for a long time,” Kim said of Ellison, who is also pursuing his first individual Olympic gold. “For that, I really respect him.”

All three Korean men in Rio were Olympic debutants, while this year's squad features two established veterans and a teenager who has been labelled as the greatest talent in 100 years.

Woojin remains a strong threat for individual gold as the world patiently waits to see Korea compete away from home soil. The former world number one offered reassurance of his preparedness for the Games at the recent Asia Cup event in Gwangju, where he shot an Asian record for qualification of 697 points.

Concerns over Korea’s decision to stay home until Tokyo only go so far. The Olympics is won in matchplay, not on the qualifying field, and Kim will still be keen to wipe the bad taste from Rio firmly from his mouth.

“I found it very interesting and funny that the first international competition after a while is the Olympics,” he said. “I’m just very honoured just to be here during these difficult times. I wish that everyone, all the athletes, are in good health and that they can achieve their goals.”

The archery competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games start on 23 July.