Triple gold for Lee as Korea dominates on final day in Dhaka
Korea’s recurve archers continued their continental dominance, taking all five gold medals on offer on the final day of competition at the 2021 Asian Archery Championships in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
It brought the leading nation’s total victory haul to nine – adding in the four from yesterday’s compound medal matches – matching the squad’s previous best at the event, set two years ago in Bangladesh.
Former world champion Lee Seungyun led the way with three gold medals.
Having anchored the men’s team to a 6-2 victory over India and then his mixed team partnership with Ryoo Su Jung to a 5-1 win over hosts Bangladesh, Seungyun dispatched teammate Han Woo Tack in the individual title bout.
“I was out of the national team for about a year so I was worried about losing my mood, I kind of lost my mood,” said Lee in the mixed zone after the match.
“Luckily, I got my mood back and that made me win three gold medals today. I’m really happy.”
The winner of the 2013 worlds in Belek, and team gold medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympics, was simply more consistent in the arena, capping his triple gold run with a 9.6 average in the individual final.
“I wasn't really that nervous because I was facing Korean archers so it mostly felt like the national training camp. We competed against each other like at training. I was kind of happy, not nervous at all.”
In comparison to Seungyun’s experience, the women’s final saw two Korean senior debutants shoot for the title.
Ryoo Su Jung was the bigger name, having made the news in mid-2020 as only the second archer in history to shoot more than 1400 points on the 1440 Round.
A three-X set – a group less than half the size of an apple in the middle of the target set 70 metres downrange – to level the match in the third was a tantalising hint of that talent.
But it was her opponent, Lim Haejin, who had fewer mistakes over the back two sets and took home the win, 7-3.
“It’s my first gold medal at the international level so it means a lot to me,” said Lim in the mixed zone after the match.
“It makes me think about all the people who have supported and taught me. I want to thank them all. I am so happy to represent Korea, it’s incredible for me.”
Both Ryoo and Lim were part of the Korean recurve women’s team that, completed by Oh Yejin, demolished India for gold.
While the Indian squad had a slow start it barely mattered as through three clean sets the Koreans dropped just four points, closing with two series of 59 and a perfect 60 points, and extended their title streak at the Asian championships to five.
A large contingent of local Korean fans travelled out to Dhaka’s Army Stadium to support the team on this last day of the event.
“Whenever I go abroad for a tournament, somehow the Korean community come over to the stadiums and support us,” said men’s winner Lee with a big smile on his face. “I really appreciate it and I thank everybody. It made me focus more on my game, so thank you to everyone who came out here to support us.”
Korea’s dominant performance in Dhaka, while impressive, was expected.
Three medals for the fast-becoming-contender hosts from Bangladesh was perhaps not. They are the first medals for the nation in the history of the Asian championships.
With the silver in the recurve mixed team event and a pair of bronze medals in the recurve team competitions, Bangladesh finished tied in third in the medal table with Kazakhstan, behind only the more established countries of Korea and India.
Iran was the only other country to climb the podium.
The 2021 Asian Championships in Dhaka was the last major event of the year, with the majority of the archery world already having moved indoors.
The next outdoor season officially starts on 1 April 2022.
1. Korea: 15 (9 gold, 3 silver, 3 bronze)
2. India: 7 (1 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze)
=3. Bangladesh: 3 (1 silver, 2 bronze)
=3. Kazakhstan: 3 (1 silver, 2 bronze)
4. Iran: 2 (1 silver, 1 bronze)