No surprises in Beijing in Womens Archery


No surprises in Beijing in Womens Archery

Aug 08: The 128 competitors - 64 men and 64 women - all shot 72 arrows each to establish a ranking order for the elimination events. In the Womens event, defending Olympic champion Park Sung-hyun tied the Olympic record in the ranking round. Park's score of 673 in the individual ranking equalled the Olympic record set by Lina Herasymenko of Ukraine in 1996. Park set the world record of 682 in the same round in 2004. South Korean Yun Ok-hee, who holds the world's No. 1 ranking, finished second with a score of 667, while their teammate Joo Hyun-jung followed up in third with a score of 664. Koreans have won every Olympic gold medal since 1984 - by filling the top three individual places. Yun Ok-Hee, world-ranked number one, finished six points behind Park, with Joo Hyun-Jung three points behind her. Their collective, 216-arrow tally of 2004 broke by ten points their own Olympic record, set in Sydney.

Australia's Jane Waller scored 634 and is placed 28th, while Lexie Feeney scored 580.

To say that Korea pay attention to the detail of archery may be an understatement. At their training camp in Taeneung back home in South Korea, they rebuilt a perfect replica of Beijing's Court A, the 5000-seat archery stadium, so that their archers might accustom themselves to the proximity of the crowd and photographers. Compare that with the reaction of Lexie Feeney (59th yesterday), one of Australia's two women archers, "I didn't realise there were going to be crowds that close ...".

In recognition of South Korea's pre-eminence in archery, no fewer than 13 countries have coaches from that country, including the British men who have Suk Dong Eun, known as Peter Suk, as their guide. The Korean talent-pool also provides performers - Nami Hakayawa of Japan (ninth yesterday in the women's) and Sky Kim of Australia (14th in the men's) were both raised in Korea.

Finally from the women's round, a girl. Mariana Avitia is from Monterrey in Mexico and will turn 15 in September. She started archery because she was growing bored with her other sport, speed skating. Ranked 80th in the world, she will begin the women's individual competition ranked 20th, with a first round tie on Tuesday against the second woman from the People's Republic of Korea, Son Hye Yong.

Korea's men aren't quite as all-consuming as the women. Park Kyung-Mo was their highest-ranking archer yesterday, in fourth place. They win world championships for fun, but can't dominate at the Olympics. Nobody seems to know why.

Juan Rene Serrano of Mexico on 679, Mangal Singh Champia of India on 678 and the Ukraine's Viktor Ruban (finished in the mens team in 3rd place in Athens) on 678, fill the top three ranks and give the top of the men's section a broader spread of nationalities.

Australian mens placings are Sky Kim on 665 in 14th place, Michael Naray on 658 in 30th place and Matthew Gray on 654 in 39th place. Just to put this into perspective, some other placings - Simon Terry, UK (7) on 670, Brady Ellison, USA (15) on 664, Alan Wills, UK (21) on 661, Laurence Godfrey, UK (34) on 657, Richard Johnson, USA (40) on 653, Victor Wunderle, USA (41) on 652.

Men's Team 70m Ranking Round standings put the UK team on 1988 in 5th spot, Australia on 1977 in 9th spot and USA on 1969 in 10th spot.

Hope springs eternal from the land down under.

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