It was the biggest and best of all …
Eighty-four years after World Archery formed in 1931, Copenhagen, Denmark welcomed 627 athletes from 95 countries to the 2015 World Archery Championships, July 26 to Aug. 2. That’s an attendance record for the athletes, who competed in front of sold-out crowds during the two-day finals. The tournament – which was broadcast live across Europe and the world – was held at the city’s center in front of Christianborg Palace, the Danish Parliament building, providing an amazing backdrop for this historic event.
…but the Olympics are even bigger.
One match determined 48 qualification places: the first team round on Tuesday, July 28. For the recurve archers, this was two tournaments in one: They could qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and win a medal at the Worlds. Judging by some team’s celebrations after that crucial match, they clearly consider the Olympics most important!
You might get one more chance.
After that Olympic blitz July 28, many big nations earned individual Rio qualifications as the tournament continued. Friday, however, delivered a unique knockout tournament, with two men’s and three women’s individual spots at stake. With 18 nations battling for the precious places, Italy, Poland, Austria, Germany and Indonesia succeeded. Those who didn’t qualify will get more chances next year, but it’s always better to have it in the bag.
You should always prepare for anything.
Many archers will long remember this tournament for the Danish weather, which was volatile during the qualifying rounds. The archers battled sleet, sunshine, calm spells, furious winds and torrential rains all on the same day! The extreme elements inflicted some well-known casualties. Top Italian compound archer Sergio Pagni said afterward: “I train for hours and work hard every single day to be ready for the biggest event, and [when I shoot] I get rain with ice that for one minute arrive on my face, from left to right. And after that minute of apocalypse… sunshine! Rage….” Olympic champion Oh Jin-Hyek of South Korea crashed in his first individual match, also blaming the weather. The finals weekend stayed dry, with just a little steady wind.
Ki Bo Bae capped a remarkable comeback.
We’ve already mentioned the awesome talents of Ki Bo Bae here on Archery 360. She returned to the Korean squad this year after a year in archery’s wilderness, and fought her way to several World Cup medals and a victory at the World University Games. In Copenhagen, she won a team bronze, the mixed-team title, and – three years to the day since winning her Olympic title – the individual World title by beating Lin Shih-Chia of Chinese Taipei in the final. The win made her the first woman to hold World and Olympic titles simultaneously since the legendary Kim Soo-Nyung in the 1980s. It also completes a “career grand slam” of major titles to go with her 2012 World Cup win. Way to go!
Korea still atop the world.
The “great white sharks” have seen a few defeats on the international stage the past 12 months, but when crunch time came, they won every finals match they competed in. Earlier, when the Korean men were forced into a shoot-off against low-ranked Poland in their first team match, the archery world was faced with the incredible prospect of the men in white not qualifying for Rio. Of course, they squeaked past and went on to beat Spain, the USA and Italy on their way to an almost nonchalant world title. Only the Russian women’s team, claiming its first title in 28 years, stopped a sweep of recurve gold medals from returning to Seoul.
Wherever you’re from, you could get your chance to shine.
Some lesser-known archery nations did amazingly well. The tiny nation of Georgia, for instance, qualified a full women’s team for Rio, and their mixed recurve team reached the bronze-medal match. Venezuela’s compound women reached the bronze-medal final, and recurver Elias Malave shot consistently all the way to the bronze match, even taking 4 set points off eventual champion Kim Woojin in the semifinal. Iran and the Ukraine won compound team titles for the first time. Archery’s big nations were all there, of course, but it’s clear that countries from every continent are developing elite squads.
It’s better to be “on stage” first.
For the first time at the Worlds, the qualification rounds featured a pair of “show targets.” Spectators are positioned right behind these televised targets, with the matches live-streamed on YouTube. In most tournaments, the spectators and TV coverage are reserved for the finals. This environment differed slightly from the rest of the field. Archers who won on the show targets stayed there, but their next opponent had to come in and shoot cold in that setting. This arrangement seemed to play to the advantage of several athletes. Later, the warm-up range for the finals was a different, sunnier environment from the finals field itself. This arrangement might have helped some archers who shot the team finals earlier in the day, allowing them to set their feet and sights accordingly. In a sport with razor-thin margins of victory, such things matter.
Check and check again.
Archers should always check their scores in a tournament. Why? Because mistakes can happen to anyone, even the legends. American compounder Reo Wilde signed his card for a wrong total during the qualifications, as did two others. His mistake dropped him from third place to 115th, dropping the USA men’s compound team from the event. Card errors occur in other sports, of course, and have cost golfers many titles over the years. Although such errors are rare in archery, the card has the final say.
Copenhagen was indeed “wonderful.”
Although the Danish capital had some capricious weather, it also had wonderful sights, incredible food and friendly people. It’s obviously a well-practiced host of sporting events. Denmark’s home crowds got their reward Aug. 1 when native son Stephan Hansen, 20, won the world individual compound title, earing a standing ovation. The organization and volunteers were second to none, but they did suffer at least one humorous gaffe. On Aug. 1, a mulish volunteer ousted the Korean women’s team and their coaches from a seating section, telling them, “These seats are reserved for VIPs.”