Choi, Kim lead Korean sweep of recurve qualification

Kim Je Deok and Choi Misun qualified top in Gwangju.

Home nation archers Kim Je Deok and Choi Misun scored first in recurve men’s and women’s qualifying as Korea also swept the recurve team seeds at the second stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup this afternoon in Gwangju.

Double Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games gold medallist Je Deok, who recently turned 18 years old, shot 685 points – well below his career best of 697 – in his circuit debut to take his first career pole at an international event.

“I didn't expect to be the top seed,” he said. Je Deok appeared to tame the windy conditions better than the 76 other recurve men in action.

“I just tried to focus on my shooting and remind myself how I practised before coming here. I have more power in my arrows than other archers so I just focused on how to shoot. There is nothing special. I just focused, focused and once again focused.”

The ascendant star came in ahead of his three-time world champion teammate Kim Woojin (680) and Tang Chih-Chun (670) of Chinese Taipei.

Despite Je Deok’s relatively short history on the global stage, he’s already comfortable in his responsibilities in his return to the Korean squad.

“Before my first international match I felt very nervous but now I am more experienced and can do more of my routine. That is how I can overcome the pressure,” he said, acknowledging, maybe, the scrutiny and competition Korean archers face when shooting for their country.

“I feel proud that I can take part in a World Cup in Korea. Even though it is my first stage, I just try to focus on good results.”

World number one Brady Ellison came 17th with 660 points for the 72-arrow 70-metre qualifying round and Mete Gazoz – the only non-Korean gold medallist at the last Olympics and the current world number two – posted 653 for 26th.

Choi Misun’s score to top women’s qualifying was 655 points.

A former Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion from 2015, incidentally the last time the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final was held in Mexico as it will be in October this year, looks on course to add to her 10-gold-medal haul across individual and team events on the circuit – and potentially win her first stage since 2016.

“I didn’t expect such a score because it was very windy,” said the 25-year-old. “I tried to relax my mind and aim for a top-eight place. I focused on that and luckily I got the top seed.”

“To be honest, now, I am thinking more about a medal than I did before the qualification. But I want to focus on my shooting.”

Like in the men’s leaderboard, two Korean women made the top three – and it was Katharina Bauer from Germany who separated Choi Misun and international debutant Lee Gahyun.

“I am happy as it was quite windy today and I had to aim really far from the middle,” said Bauer, who took bronze medallist at the season opener in Antalya. “I’m just happy I managed to reach such a score in a competition with this wind.”

Reigning Olympic Champion An San had a rough day, shooting halves of 319 and 321 for a 640, saying afterwards that she “did not expect that kind of wind”.

Competition in Gwangju continues on Thursday with recurve team eliminations in the morning and individual compound eliminations in the afternoon.

Top seeds: Recurve men

  1. Kim Je Deok, Korea – 685 (8 circuit ranking points)
  2. Kim Woojin, Korea – 680 (7 points)
  3. Tang Chih-Chun, Chinese Taipei – 674 (6 points)
  4. Mauro Nespoli, Italy – 672 33 10s (5 points)
  5. Lee Woo Seok, Korea – 672  31 10s (5 points)
  6. Marcus D'Almeida, Brazil – 671 32 10s (3 points)
  7. Felix Wieser, Germany – 671 30 10s (3 points)
  8. Florian Unruh, Germany – 665 32 10s 13 Xs (1 point)
  9. Miguel Alvarino, Spain – 665 32 10s 12 Xs (1 point)
  10. Alessandro Paoli, Italy – 665 31 10s (1 point)

Top seeds: Recurve women

  1. Choi Misun, Korea – 655 (8 circuit ranking points)
  2. Katharina Bauer, Germany – 650 (7 points)
  3. Lee Gahyun, Korea – 649 (6 points)
  4. Kuo Tzu Ying, Chinese Taipei – 646 (5 points)
  5. Lei Chien-Ying, Chinese Taipei – 645 (4 points)
  6. Casey Kaufhold, United States of America – 643 (3 points)
  7. Elina Idensen, Germany – 640 24 10s (2 points)
  8. An San, Korea – 640 19 10s (2 points)