World Cup Berlin redux

16 October, 2017

Starting to look back at the year already, with some pics from the very first Berlin World Cup by Anna Westner, who was kind enough to share. Thanks Anna!

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

Book review: Archery Anatomy

15 October, 2017

This unique book, first published in 1995 and recently reprinted for the eighth time by Souvenir Press, remains the classic work on archery anatomy and the related topics of biomechanics, alignment and efficiency.

Ray Axford explores the relationship between human anatomy and the anatomy of the bow to help archers, and their coaches, as an outline to how best to co-ordinate the natural movements of the archer and the bow, and efficiently use joints, muscles, bone and tendons. It’s focussed on recurve, but probably a good 80% is directly relatable to compound as well.

It contains literally hundreds of excellent, detailed drawings and diagrams, and is a standard part of many coaching libraries. It’s fairly technical (although it doesn’t require any medical knowledge) and may be better for intermediate archers and up. It would be an excellent aid to video coaching, too.

A lot of archery books discuss (correctly) the mental side of the sport, but this work is entirely about understanding the physical side. If you are serious about archery and/or coaching, owning a copy is probably essential.

Order it through your nearest bookshop, not Amazon. Help keep bookshops alive. Cheers.

 

Taerung closes as Korean archery moves south

10 October, 2017

Pic: Oh Jin Hyek. The last one you’ll see of Korean archers here.

As their archers head for Mexico, a chapter of Korean archery has closed, The centre that trained two generations of Olympians is eventually closing its doors and the KAA is shifting elite operations to the enormous Jincheon (pronounced ‘chinchun’) facility nearer the centre of South Korea.

The old residential training centre was on the eastern outskirts of Seoul, whereas the new facility, home to a fantastic 39 Olympic sports, is in, well, the middle of nowhere. With Korea hosting the Winter Olympics next year, there has been a major reorganisation and a large injection of cash into elite sport. The archers will still be residential at least during the week, but some may be further from (or nearer to) homes and families.

Chang Hyejin summed it up pretty well in an interview with Segye.com:

Chang Hye-jin,who first lived in the Taerung Village in 2010, said, “It is too bad to leave the village I am familiar with,” but “the facility in Jincheon Village is really huge. All the athletes gather together in one place and think about training, and that is also good. On the other hand, there is really nothing [else] around it, so I’m worried about how I will live while training.”

Jincheon Village (photo via Korea.net)

Some of the other Korean athletes have been waxing nostalgic on social media about their former home, with London 2012 champion Oh Jin Hyek being particularly effusive:

Thank you, Taerung! During your time,  all the laughter, anger, sorrow and happiness of Korean western archery was here… the birthplace of gold medals. The place where the athletes of all sports have been sweating for Korean glory … Thank you very much! I will not forget!

Can the KAA keep up the success in their new home? We’ll see.

You can read more about the Jincheon centre right here

 

Ladies First: a documentary about Deepika Kumari

3 October, 2017

pic from ladiesfirstdoc.com

This month a documentary made about and starring Deepika Kumari called Ladies First has appeared. Shot in the buildup to the Rio 2016 Olympics, where Deepika finished 9th, it has high ambitions:

Ladies First tells the story of Deepika Kumari who, born on the roadside to abject poverty in rural India, went in search of food, stumbled upon archery, and within 4 years became the number one archer in the world!

We document Deepika’s tumultuous path to the Rio 2016 Olympics. Having to overcome the obstacles of a socially repressive system, she strives to achieve her dream of becoming the first Indian woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

Our aim is to create new role models, with the belief that human connection and the power of storytelling is the necessary catalyst for social change, our goal is to connect audiences to an inspirational role model – a girl who is an unstoppable force, a survivor and a fighter. We hope Deepika’s story and her tenacity help dismantle the barriers holding girls back and give them the courage to fight and follow their dreams.

They’ve clearly managed to get Deepika to trust them and open up a little; unusual for an athlete so wary of the media – and she wasn’t, by the sounds of it, very keen on participating if this piece in Vogue India is correct.

You can watch an older trailer here: https://vimeo.com/167603028

Unfortunately there’s no word yet on exactly when, where and how anyone will be able to see this film. (I’ve emailed the filmmakers twice, but had no reply yet).

More on the making of it here: http://www.indianwomenblog.org/team-of-ladies-first-play-flashback-of-bts-moments-with-archer-deepika-kumari/

It’s clear they want a wider audience, but I think a lot of people on the archery side would be very keen to see it, so let’s hope they make it easily available in some shape or form soon.

Read more at: ladiesfirstdoc.com

pic from ladiesfirstdoc.com

September roundup

1 October, 2017

September opened with the World Cup Final in Rome; perhaps the most spectacular ever held, although they might fight that one out with Paris 2013.

I wrote a full write up here.  Plenty more coverage at World Archery. Beautiful setting and a carnival atmosphere.

               
It’s interesting how the crowd treat the Korean recurve stars; almost like gods dropped in from Valhalla. The rock star status is increasing.  Competition-wise: It was mostly one for the favourites, although Braden Gellenthien emerged from the strong field of compound men to take a deserved prize. The experts got it wrong. I mean, one so-called archery expert went zero for four on predictions, there…

Rome was swiftly followed by the World Archery Para Championships in Beijing, at the world’s largest centre for disabled sport. The WA media team is used to being crammed into tiny, too-busy spaces to work; here we had a three storey gym that fitted three basketball courts with room to spare. Quite a place; and a supportive and proud atmosphere like no other. You can read what I briefly wrote about it here.

I had a truly amazing and very lucky trip to Bhutan; the only country in the world where archery is the national sport. Am still writing that one up. More than that; I got over my altitude sickness just enough to make a short film along the way which hopefully should illustrate some of the archery culture  – traditonal and Olympic – in that beautiful country. It’s going to be edited over the next month or so and hopefully up and ready in November. Watch this space.

There was this fun thing with Kim Woojin and Chang Hyejin. The machine translated the title, ‘We are always working for those who believe’. I wasn’t sure, so I ran it past a Korean native who I sometimes get to translate things for me, and he said it was good. ‘We are always working for those who believe’. I love it. It’s something that hints at the work ethic of athletes, and the Korean national team in particular.

Easily my most popular post of the month was this egregious piece of very bad archery from a Disney Cruise Lines event. (I did say I was going to retire ‘bad archery’ from this blog, but you know, sometimes you’ve got to.  My favourite comment was from Carla Ferrari, who said “The longer you look at it, the worse it gets.” Heh. (Also on the frivolous front, L**s A******n put up a new video – and then took it down again).

What else? Patrick Huston won the GB National Series for the third year running. Woojin thumped in a new 90m record.  There were issues with booze. There was also the small matter of the World 3D Championships in France, and the start of the Youth World Championships in Rosario, ongoing – and with worrying storms – at the time of writing. There was this cool thing over on Dutch Target about archery and photography – two of my favourite things.

In just two weeks, the big dance starts in Mexico City – now a Ki Bo Bae free zone. Unfortunately, I can’t attend that one. Will be following along as best I can. Hopefully it will be a glorious celebration of the sport, just a few weeks after a terrible natural disaster. Let’s make it special.

 

 

 

“We are always working for those who believe.” Woojin & Hyejin

28 September, 2017

Chang Hyejin and Kim Woojin at Rome 2017. Pic by Dean Alberga (but hey, he took it using my camera).

This is a translation of a recent article by JTBC News. You can find the original article (in Korean) here.

Kim Woojin and Chang Hyejin, 25 and 30 respectively, are preparing for the World Archery Championships in October, in Mexico.

Woojin led the gold winning men’s team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and Chang Hye-jin won two gold medals in both individual and women’s team. While they both won gold, their personalities are very different. Woojin is the youngest, but the calmest. earning him the nickname, ‘grownup’, and on the other hand Hyejin, the oldest one, is much more warrior-like. 

Together they took a gold medal after defeating host country Italy 5-1 at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final mixed team finals held in Rome, Italy on August 3.

The Archery World Cup finals is a tournament in which eight male and female athletes – one from the World Cup Rankings 1 to 7 and one from the host country – shoot tournament style. Kim won the individual competition, four years after Oh Jin-Hyuk in 2013 – the last time a that a Korean male athlete won the World Cup finals. The “Archery brothers and sisters” are on top of the world.

Since the Olympics, you have both won many international competitions.

Chang: I won the gold medal in the Olympics, so I got confidence in my performance.

Kim: I had confidence from the Olympics last year. I was careful because I slipped up on the threshold of making the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and it took a lot of strength to overcome the pressure and the burden. Since Rio, I have been shooting a lot more boldly.

Woojin’s new quiver. Gom, or 곰, means ‘bear’.


It seems that getting through the domestic qualification tournament is harder than winning the international competition. Rio Olympic men’s gold medalist Ku Bonchan and team gold medalist Lee Seungyun have been eliminated.

Kim: When I first started 8 years ago when I was a high school senior, the competition was extremely fierce and still is. If you shot well, you stayed, but if you didn’t, you had to leave, I was nervous.

How do you feel when your colleagues suddenly disappear?

Kim: The world of competition is tough. You have to survive solely on your skills, not networks of friends and family members. If it was all done with favours between members, Korea wouldn’t be the strong archery nation we have today. Of course, it’s not nice to see one of your teammates leave. I also was one of [those leaving] for approximately a year, so I know what it feels like. When I see them, I see them with the mind that we will have our day again to go to competitions together.

Chang: I used to cry when my friends dropped out of the team, but now I’m a bit older I think to myself and tell them that it’s not like we won’t be able to meet anymore.

the joker

Both of you have been eight years on the national team. It seems that the training centre must be like your home now. 

Kim: I am now more comfortable sleeping in the village than at home.

Chang: No matter how much time goes by, it’s still just ‘the village’. I’m still more comfortable at home. (laughs)

What do you do to relax?

Chang: It is not easy for me to meet my parents often because they’re all the way out in Daegu, but I like to have a ‘restaurant’ tour with my family.

Kim: I go down to the Han [river] and inhale the chicken and cola, and I like to watch movies with my friends. Pirates of the Caribbean, yeah.

Chang Hyejin & Ki Bo Bae after their semifinal match. Rome 2017

Ki Bo Bae announce she was getting married. Have you had any thoughts in that direction? 

Chang: I have talked about it a lot with my friend, but we did not think about marriage since we were always training in the national team. (laughs) I once joked to Bobae that I would be left alone if she got married, but now… hey, congratulations on your marriage, Bobae!

Kim: I told Bobae congratulations on her marriage. I am still young and I have no thoughts about ​​marriage yet. Not right now, but I do want a girlfriend. I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing archery and marriage at the same time.

Tell us about the world championship next month.

Chang: The world title is not something you can say is easy. A representing athlete to has to train hard even on the day when the body is aching and wants to rest. But I’ve been doing it for the past eight years. The feeling and emotion, the spark I get when I shoot 10 points in a match is what keeps me going. I want to feel that feeling in this world championship. The goal is to win.

Kim: I want to get good results in both individual and group matches. This is the biggest major tournament since the Olympics. We have been doing well in this year’s competitions and we will be able to do well this time. We are always working for those who believe.

World Archery Para Championships 2017

18 September, 2017

I had the honour of working at these in Beijing. You can find all the coverage at World Archery. Am just going to add a couple of pics here, most of which I took from my tent position, face on to the athletes.

It was a great meet, with the final day especially of really outstanding quality and exciting competition, lots of comebacks and great final pushes. Tricky conditions, though, especially for wheelchair athletes; it was a mostly hot and humid week.

It’s awesome how much the para community treats it both as a serious competition and a chance to see friends and colleagues from all over the world. It’s a festival that they have every couple of years. See you at ’s-Hertogenbosch 2019.

FORZA AZZURRI

The Azzurri not being quite forza against Iran. Cracking match.

Zhou Jiamin. Could deliver punchy, awesome quotes about sport. On cue. In English. We loved her

Andre Shelby. An absolute stand-up dude in a field crammed with stand-up dudes and dudettes.

there was some wildlife.

yep

the field looking nice at sunset

Lars Andersen: a new level of… something

16 September, 2017

Is this guy still here? Apparently so. He has a new video out. Stop sending it to me. I got it already. Here, I’ll save you the bother:

^^ UPDATE 19th September: Lars appears to have taken his newest video private. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

On purely face value, I like this. You know, I actually enjoy the stunts and his posing and dorky I’m-deadly-serious-about-this face after every move he lands. I love the idea that someone is doing this stuff. It’s good to fire the imagination. But unfortunately, he is persisting in the same self-aggrandising, historical-cherry-picking load of flimflam he gave us a couple of years ago. If it ain’t broke, I guess.

You can read what I wrote about his last viral video here, and, if you are really bored, feel free to scour the internet for many other takedowns and explanations.  It’s particularly tedious how he bangs on about disproving Hollywood archery myths, while perpetually quoting from films to prove his particular points. He seems to mix up Hollywood and, y’know, actual things that happened.

The biggest dodge of all is that all known major historical military victories involving archery involved massed ranks of archers; the artillery of their day, able to hold off enemies at distance, not close quarters. Battles were not won by the individual guy who shot faster than everyone else at short range with a low-poundage bow, or the guy who ran out of the way quickest. That’s his gig. Nobody else’s.

There’s plenty more utter bollocks in this new clip, which I will let you, the serious archery reader, have the joy of amusing yourself with. He’s got particularly good at bluntly stating the incredibly obvious as if it was some kind of samizdat wisdom, too.

Unfortunately, this isn’t offering anything radically new from the last film he made – in fact, it’s less spectacular, and consequently, so far doesn’t seem to have set the internet on fire like the last one did. The one thing Lars is really world-class at – developing viral content – seems to have eluded him this time.

Where Lars really screws the pooch in this one is when he twice uses a shot of Reo Wilde at full draw to aim a particularly pointless barb at ‘static’ target archers. He’s picked the wrong *ahem* target there. Reo Wilde will stand there all day and bang in ten after ten. And if he misses, he’ll accept it, learn from it, and take the next shot. If he wins, if he loses, he will accept the result. He won’t blame ‘so-called archery experts’. More to the point, he will go out there, in in front of a crowd, a worldwide TV audience, or quite probably just you if you asked him nicely  – and do it again and again and again, as he has done for decades.

There’s a reason you don’t see Lars on the many TV shows he must have been invited on after the success of his 2015 video. This is because he succeeds in pulling off his behind-closed-doors shots on the 5th take, or the 15th, or the 50th. He can’t catch an arrow on cue. If he could, he could easily earn a fortune all over the world. But he doesn’t. Because he can’t.

Because what Lars does isn’t ‘rediscovered’ archery of any kind. Ultimately, it’s TV magic, in the genre of trick shooting. Magicians have been doing things like this for years.  Although I wouldn’t call Lars a magician, either. Because real magicians do it in front of an audience night after night after night.  He’s just an entertainer. Hey, that’s great! I love being entertained.

Perhaps the most famous archery trick shot expert is Byron Ferguson, who you can find performing in front of a camera all over YouTube. He missed, frequently, and didn’t bolster his claims that what he did was some special ‘secret’.

Presumably I fall into the ‘so-called archery experts’ camp that Lars is so furious with. Actually, this is me just wearing my regular skeptical hat, as I think more people should do in an increasingly credulous age. He could point to my relatively tiny internet numbers and laugh. Knock yourself out, Lars.

I recently worked at the World Para Archery Championships in Beijing, where I had the privilege of seeing the world’s best para archers, and also seeing the stats, metrics and engagement of what World Archery are producing. The most popular piece of content by far was this video showing Canadian archer Kevin Evans and how he shoots with an assistive device. Evans, an archer before the accident that saw him lose an arm, is the stand-up guy to end them all.

It clearly fascinates people, and for good reason. It shows a man with a grave physical handicap saying: “I don’t care. I will make this happen.” It shows bravery and strength and bloody-mindedness in the face of adversity. It shows determination and grit and passion.

But most of all, it shows a man willing to stand up in front of his peers and perform, whatever the outcome of the shot, or the match, or the competition. To test himself and his character. That, for me is the essence of archery, and indeed all great sportspeople.

So have fun watching Lars jump around – and remember what archery is really good at ‘rediscovering’. 

Rome 2017 World Cup final

4 September, 2017

The World Cup season is over, and we’re into World Championship season. It went out in style though, with a spectacular finish in Rome at the Stadio dei Marmi. The weather was beautiful, not too crazy hot, and dry apart from an apocalyptic thunderstorm on the familiarisation and practice day on Friday, where the skies were almost black at 1pm in the afternoon (see photos below).

The stadium is part of the complex built for the Rome Olympic Games of 1960, and between CONI (the Italian Olympic committee) FITARCO (the Italian archery federation) and Hyundai (the title sponsor) they put on a genuinely spectacular show, with an almost carnival atmosphere, clanking Roman soldiers and a large, enthusiastic audience, especially on recurve Sunday. It was a cut above all other World Cup finals so far, I think. It was also a reminder that archery has two huge stars in Brady Ellison and Ki Bo Bae, who got the biggest cheers of the day and both spent hours with fans afterwards on hundreds of selfies and autographs. Brady couldn’t, however, get past Kim Woojin at the last, who had turned it on. The guy was a machine. 

Woojin faces the public

It was pleasing to have an actual scoop, to able to break the news of Ki Bo Bae’s upcoming marriage (and attendant fiance) on worldarchery.org, and watch the Korean media gobble it up the next day. Even if a couple of people got confused with my and-another-thing-sentence on Facebook: “Oh, and Ki Bo Bae is getting married in November.” and interpreted it to mean “Oh (meaning Oh Jin Hyek) and Ki Bo Bae are getting married in November.” Will remember to be clearer next time.

no filter

But Ki Bo Bae, after surviving a ragged first match, well deserved her win. We did a double interview (forthcoming) with Bo Bae and Chang Hyejin, in which Bo Bae was asked to tell us a secret of her archery practice. She said: “Shoot one more arrow than everybody else.” – and it was never truer than this weekend. Her Friday familiarisation session on the finals field coincided with a torrential downpour that led several other archers to abandon the session. She, however, carried on in the pouring rain, pushed on as ever by her coach Park Chae-soon; him of the gray hair and noisy disposition. That extra effort in miserable conditions might not have won the title, but it said an awful lot about what it takes to do it.

Thanks, as ever, to everyone who made it happen; everyone I met, worked with, chatted to, and ate and drank with. See you all again soon.

Hyejin wanting to be somewhere else

David Pascqualucci. Tried, but was up against an impossible wall.

Braden Gellenthien finishing the job against Stephan Hansen. Two men connected in one interesting way…

Deepika Kumari. Was possibly a bit unlucky, but didn’t really bring the form everyone knows she has.

Plenty more pics up at Dutch Target as usual.

July roundup

2 August, 2017

Barebow at the World Games 2017. Pic by Dean Alberga / World Archery.

July has been and gone. Quieter than the World Cup frenzy of May and June, it saw the World Games take place in Wroclaw in Poland, scene of several previous World Cups.

The World Games, if you’ve forgotten, are a multi-sport event every four years designed to provide a platform for sports and disciplines that don’t get contested at the Olympics. It’s often seen as a stepping stone to wider international acceptance, too. The archery meet featured recurve and barebow field events, and a compound target event. A lot of familiar names turned up, but it’s best you read the extremely extensive coverage over at World Archery. Brady Ellison expounded his love of field to Inside The Games after the recurve sessions – but, you know, he said he was probably going back to compound a couple of years ago. 🙂

The biggest Olympics news of all was that the next two countries to host the summer Olympics after Tokyo have been selected, after months of rumours and behind-the-scenes horse trading. It’ll be #Paris2024 and #LosAngeles2028, both hosting the Games for the third time.

You will remember, of course, that Paris will likely be putting the archery competition on at the Esplanade des Invalides in the (relative) centre of the city:


A weird aside: see those two figures in the number one lane? Whoever the artist is, they  *seem* to have based them on – and I’m not absolutely sure why or how they got there – a really not-very-good picture of Chang Hyejin and then coach Rye Soo Jung that I took in Wroclaw in 2013. Of all things.
I’m guessing that’s because they’re full length and fairly easy to remove from the background. Photoshop priorities!

This pic shows the Esplanade des Invalides on the right, and on the other side of the bridge, the Grand Palais where they will be holding the fencing and taekwondo. This is excellent news: the archery will be at the very heart of the city and in the centre of the action.

Los Angeles will be building a custom venue – ‘Stadium Lake’ – at the under construction LA Stadium at Hollywood Park.  Dean Alberga will have to swim to take pictures. 🙂

2024 and 2028 will probably be the last of the single-city Games, as almost all bids going foward increasingly involve more than one location – and rightly so, as the 21st century Olympics is too much of a burden on the tax base of even a major world city these days. The Olympic s of the the 2030s and on will probably look something like this.

By far my most shared story of the month was about the 35th running of the President’s competition, the biggest annual Korean domestic competition; and it’s most salient, terrifying fact: in the senior recurve division ranking, twenty men and thirty-nine women shot 1350 or above, the mark long considered the definition of world elite. That number doesn’t include a couple of dozen high school students who also made that score.

Most countries in the world have perhaps two or three recurve archers who can shoot 1350 on a regular basis – if that. The sheer strength in depth – and the deep commitment to the full FITA as a mark of quality – isn’t going away any time soon.

Also, for the first time ever, the President’s competition saw a mixed team round shot. Think it’s related to this announcement at all? 🙂 It will also be part of the Asian Games next year in 2018, an event the Korea Archery Association take almost as seriously as the Olympics.

What else? There’s this rather cool bow-shaped lamp happening somewhere.  The Triple Trouble oranjj machine produced another cool video. The Rixos Downtown Antalya gave us a cool, if rather dangerous-looking advert. And the ‘Hunger Games effect’ seems to have become the Game Of Thrones effect – hey, whatever.

August: the Berlin World Cup will soon be upon us, and in just one month the World Cup Final in Rome. You can check the movers and shakers who’ll likely be at that over here – and frankly, it’s going to look quite a lot like last year in Odense. You can read a little more about Berlin and what’s going to happen in the preview I wrote earlier this year over on Dutch Target.  I’m not going to be at this one, unfortunately. Hope the audience tops the slightly paltry Salt Lake crowd, too.

OLYMPICS BONUSES!

Have a look at 51sprints.com, an amazing website about track athletics, who wins and why.

Also, enjoy Misha, perhaps the greatest mascot ever, from a slightly less spectacular time; Moscow 1980. Bye!