RIO DE JANEIRO : South Korea’s stranglehold on Olympic archery showed little sign of easing on Friday as men’s number one Kim Woo-jin fired a 72-arrow world record and the nation’s women dominated the ranking rounds at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The tournament’s first shoot-off on a glorious day at the Sambodromo began with a bang as world champion Kim racked up 700 points out of a maximum 720, beating the 699 his compatriot Im Dong-hyun compiled in the preliminary round in London four years ago. [L4N1AM1ZC]
The day ended with all three of South Korea’s women at the top of the standings, led by 20-year-old Choi Mi-sun, who flirted with team mate Kim Bo-bae’s world record before the wind picked up in the afternoon.
South Korea took three of the four golds in London, with only the bronze medal-winning men’s team missing out, but the Rio contingent appear determined to make a clean sweep this time round.
Such is the Koreans’ unwavering focus that 24-year-old Kim barely acknowledged his record, preferring to talk only of the men’s team event on Saturday.
“It’s just the ranking round … I want to focus on tomorrow, so today’s not really big happy,” he said through a translator before being mobbed by South Korean reporters.
Kim sealed the record with riveting theater, needing to find the innermost gold circle for a maximum 10 points with his final arrow and duly sending it flush into the middle.
His face broke into a smile as he turned back to his camp, having captured the top seeding and drawn a first-round match-up with 64th and last-ranked archer Gavin Ben Sutherland, a Zimbabwean who finished 134 points adrift of the Korean.
Kim will link up with Lee Seung-yun and Ku Bon-chan on Saturday to try to restore the nation’s reign over the men’s team event.
The United States ended their run of three successive Olympic titles from 2000-08 in a nail-biting semi-final in London.
A powerful American team drew confidence from an outstanding 690 from former world champion Brady Ellison, who took second seeding behind Kim.
Ellison and his team mates Jake Kaminski and Zach Garrett scored 2,024 points in total to be second behind South Korea (2,057). Italy, surprise winners in London, took the third seed.
The Korean women, unbeaten in the team event since its debut at the 1988 Seoul Games, finished top with 1,998 points, a gaping 60 ahead of Russia, with London silver medalists China ranked third.
The Koreans appear in good shape to extend their winning streak when the women’s team event is decided on Sunday.