14 days to go… archery & Olympics news

23 July, 2016

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Museum of Tomorrow, Centro, Rio De Janeiro

I’ve been in Rio De Janeiro one whole week. It’s an astoundingly beautiful city. Towering mountains, beautiful beaches, really nice people who don’t laugh at your very limited Portuguese.

It feels indelibly real. It bursts with life. An enormous, rolling, sprawling place where people spend their whole lives, that can easily shrug off something even as big as this.  It’s fair to say you’re not really feeling Games-fever rolling around the city yet, two weeks out from the opening ceremony, but you sense things changing. The country is still in deep recession, the Olympics bid was won when the country was riding high with record oil prices. (More on the background to the Games here).

There’s been a list of well-documented problems, none of which seem to be that much of an issue on the ground anymore, and certainly aren’t worrying any of the permanent staff here – just as long as that tube extension gets fixed, things will be fine.  I’ve felt pretty safe wandering around – safer than parts of London – helped by an ever increasing armed police and military presence. Security is already tight and getting tighter. Touch a lot of wood – and presuming a lot of people here get a wriggle on in the next couple of weeks –  this is all going to go just fine.

Over these weeks of build-ups, the huge machine that is Press Operations gradually awakens. It still feels quiet, but soon it will be the athletes, and then the fans, and then who knows what will happen.

Some of us – like me – are attached to a specific venue where particular expertise is required, and some are free-floating as necessary. We will all likely spend some time working on other sports.  And after that, the Paralympics. I’m not sure I’ve ever spent more time in a city that’s not the one I live in.

Me and the ladies in charge of rowing and sailing news aren’t staying in the various Villages with athletes and other media; we are in staying in the Centro, the downtown of Rio, best imagined as a mix of ‘old town’ and financial district. Near the coast, but not the beach. Busy during the day, dead at night and at the weekends. This part of town is also where the Sambodromo is located.

We’ve been commuting to the Olympic Park, which gives a lesson in contrasts. One road there gives us a long run in to the mountains with Christ the Redeemer redeeming all below, hugging stretches of coastline, rugged, misty peaks, past the spectacular Lagoa where the rowing will happen, past the jockey club, past one of the handful of golf clubs (golf is very much a rich man’s sport in Brazil).

The other, slightly quicker “Linha Amarela” route is very different, taking us past the docks, up and over the northern stretches of the city, crumbling concrete and rumbling, dirty buses and trucks. It takes us past the immense sprawl of favelas called the Complexo da Maré; jerry built housing, miles and miles and endless terrible miles of it, until a toll road eases us into the Barra area, a long stretch that looks like Florida, lined with shopping malls and tidy apartments, and eventually the soft-lit expanse of the truly vast Olympic Park, dwarfing London, ready to go, dormant, run over by ant-like workmen now just trying to make the details look nice.

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All this contrasts again with the best known neighbourhoods of Rio, the tourist and beach ‘Zona Sul’ areas of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon, which I still haven’t managed to properly explore. But even they rub up against giant favelas such as Rocinha – although not many “shanty towns” have a view like this.

This is a very, very beautiful place, with gigantic contrasts between rich and poor, and very different attitudes towards many things. I really like it. And I couldn’t think of a better place to hold a sporting competition. If the Cariocas get behind it, it could be one of the greatest outings ever.

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There’s less roundup news this week. Things have gone very quiet, suspect there will be a blaze of publicity kicking off shortly though. The Brazilian team are mucking in with the host nation’s publicity machine, naturally.

You’ve probably noticed that all Russian track-and-field athletes have been banned from Rio, shortly to be followed by all the weightlifters. We are still waiting to hear if there is a total ban on all Russian athletes, which would deeply affect the archery; don’t forget the Russian women’s team are ranked second in the world after guess-who.

Rio2016 have announced that there will be three different types of medal ceremony, ‘traditional’, ‘popular’, and ‘cool’. I wonder which one archery will be getting, considering it is obviously all three of those things?

Indian archer Laxmirani Mahdji has been bio’d in the Indian Press. Everyone – even TV stars – wants a selfie with the Korean women’s team. Khairal Anuar Mohamed is doing it for his late father.

Some excellent stats from WA right here. Read this.

There’s two Paralympics previews worth reading; David Drahoninsky here and from Matt Stutzman here.

TeamGB have been ratcheting up expectations ahead of a repeat of Super Saturday on the track.

Nearly a thousand Gamesmakers from London 2012 are back for another round.

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Sambodromo in full carnival mode. Photo: The Guardian

I’ve visited the Sambodromo, which opens for practice tomorrow. More about that in my next post. Cheers.

21 days to go…. archery & Olympics news

16 July, 2016

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Sunset from Main Press Centre, Barra Olympic Park, Rio De Janeiro

So I’ve made it to Rio. Been here less than 24 hours of this writing.  I haven’t seen much yet, and there’s a lot to take in – this place is enormous – but with a bit of polish and paint, it’s going to be incredible. 

So World Archery has selected the six nations to receive tripartite places for Rio; three men, three women.  The Tripartite Commission awards places in 16 sports to nations, often developing or very geographically small countries, who have only sent a small athlete delegation to the last couple of summer Games, so to enhance the Olympics’ universality and make sure smaller nations get a chance to compete on the world stage.

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I’m stoked to see that Areneo David, from the landlocked country of Malawi in southern Africa is on the list. David is the best archer developed by the extraordinary ‘Sally’ Park, who shot for Korea at the LA Olympics and has been been an archer, coach, and international judge ever since.

She was seized with missionary zeal a few years ago and decided it was her mission to bring Olympic sport to Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. With sponsorship from a Korean bank , she managed to overcome severe logistical and educational difficulties to develop a series of archers.

Some other countries are waiting for confirmation, but a couple have been confirmed in external press, including the awesomely named Karma from Bhutan, who took two medals at the South Asian Games back in February.  That’s her full name: Karma. They don’t go in for second names in Bhutan.

Due to the ranking and seeding system, tripartite archers often end up facing top level opposition. In London, the tripartite matches got some of the biggest cheers of all – the British love an underdog. I’m kinda hoping the Brazilian crowds do too.

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The world’s media are finally starting to crank up their Olympic previews. In the UK, there’s an expensive and dramatic advert for the upcoming BBC coverage.  TeamGB are getting the push from the home pressCNN have put together this interesting piece on how the Olympic Park will look.  

The venues are apparently all ready to go.  You can look inside quite a few of them with Google Street View. The parties are ready to go. To the relief of pretty much everyone, Usain Bolt, previously doubtful, has been confirmed for the Jamaican Olympic team.

There’s a general sense that things are going to work. The only black spot this week has been the ongoing row over Olympic golf, with now none of the four top golfers in the world taking part in the competition, mostly claiming it was due to the Zika virus. Unguarded comments by Rory McIlroy seem to have confirmed what a lot of people have suspected, that it might just not be that high up the priority list.

Most squads are still at their final training camps and are likely to arrive in Rio next week with their larger delegations – apart from India. India’s archers are at the forefront of the largest ever Indian delegation to any Games, and once again, Deepika Kumari is in the spotlight, although Laxmirani Madji seems to be getting some press too.

What else? Local news video piece about Jake Kaminski right here.

Interesting archery podium preview piece on some random sports blog here.

Patrick Huston has made a new video on the GBR training camp in Turkey. Stay safe out there:

A slightly overdue piece pointing out the prevalence of Korean coaches.  From earlier this year, a piece on lead judge for Rio, Graham Potts.

Bored of Olympic recurve already? Over on the dark side, Crystal Gauvin has done an account of the World Field trials on her blog. She also did an interesting interview with The Archery Blogger a week back which is worth a read. Best of all, she just won GOLD at the US Nationals. Awesome!

OK. More soon. Bye!

28 days to go…. archery & Olympics news

8 July, 2016

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One month to go, and the Korean publicity machine hits fifth gear; the KAA seem to have flung the doors wide open for the media at the Taerung training centre. There was even a special hour-long documentary called ‘Game Of Numbers’ on KBS1, the main broadcaster, on the Olympic team and how it gets picked.

I’ve managed to get hold of a copy, but it hasn’t got any English subtitles (yet). You may even be able to stream it somewhere if you can negotiate KBS’s video-on-demand website (you can register using Facebook), and get it to work. Or you may be able to track it down elsewhere; if you find a version with subtitles, do let me know….

The film is kind of slow and meditative, and takes in extensive interviews with squad & coaches, past & present. I wish I understood more Korean. Still, someone gave us a hand with a small bit of it, an over-the-shoulder shot of Ki Bo Bae’s notebook.

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You want to know what’s written in Ki Bo Bae’s notebook, don’t you? I bet you do.

1. Prioritise shooting bows (Always prioritise shooting bows over other thoughts)
2. Believe in posture techniques (trust my senses)
3. Positivity (Always think “I’m good at this” and “I can do this”)
* Making a mistake contributes to my image, so a positive routine is a must (Always think about the focus point)
* Results depend on my efforts!
* When the wind blows, aim for no more or less than 9 points
As long as I follow my usual routine, everything will turn out as planned!
Everything will be okay if I do my routine
Picture the way I shoot whilst performing image training
(Never lose trust!)

(Thanks to Jessica Cho)

From Naver News, a video revealing that the Korean team are practicing with full Falco Eye targets and full competition infrastructure on a reproduction of the backdrop in the Sambadrome. Odder than that, there is some “Neuroscience leveraging” brainwave reading action that reminds me of the devices used in this ancient film. The film also appears to show that some squad members are using 3D printed grips on their bows.

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There’s a separate film from Naver news that shows even more headset action, a diagram of the expected winds in the Sambadromo, and some other stuff too.

From Yonhap News, a revealing interview with Kim Woojin, who is rapidly turning into the most interesting member of the squad:

“Four years ago, (missing the Olympic team) left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I went through a slump” said Kim, now 24. “At a domestic competition afterward, I finished 55th out of 60 archers. I really doubted whether I could make the national team again. I watched the guys on the Olympic team train so hard, and I was just feeling sorry for myself….. When I tried to analyze the reasons that I missed London, I learned that I was too arrogant and too obsessed with the results. I was also unable to handle pressure.”

From the same website and journalist, an interview with Choi Misun and Chang Hyejin:

“I do want to win the individual title, but more than anything, I want to leave it all out there and come home with no regrets,” she said. “If I can manage to win a medal, then I’d be very delighted and grateful.”

Both interviews use the phrase “leave it all out there”. I suspect I’m going to have to try and find out what the Korean for that actually is. :)

A Reuters piece also revealed that the squad (or possibly just Ki Bo Bae) had been sunburnt practicing up a mountain on Jeju Island – the “Hawaii of Korea”. Not just any mountain – Mount Halla (Hallasan), a shield volcano and the highest peak in the country. Crikey!

The Korean teams and the alternates were also practicing in a baseball stadium, with the crowd encouraged to make a lot of noise – although clearly not when it was full. The KAA have been doing this since at least Beijing, and it doubles up as a great pre-Olympic publicity stunt. More here and some short videos here and here  (thanks to eljetico)

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Japan have picked their three women, one man team for Rio:

Kaori Kawanaka
Saori Nagamine
Yuki Hayashi

Takaharu Furukawa

Kawanaka and Furukawa return from London 2012, where they took women’s team bronze and men’s individual silver, if you remember. Although I hope they brought their singing voices with them, as their furious-looking former prime minister suggested that athletes who did not sing the national anthem loudly were unworthy of representing Japan.

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Italy have announced their Olympic and Paralympic teams for Rio, the biggest news being the absence of veteran Michele Frangilli. The men’s team are probably unable to be counted out, and the women’s team could do some damage in Rio too. Exciting!

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A slightly oddly-timed and oddly-placed video news piece about Khatuna Lorig, who won’t be competing in Rio after the USA didn’t qualify a full women’s team. You wonder if they’d booked the camera and the truck early expecting to do a pre-Olympic slot, and just went ahead and did it anyway. Weird.

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Archers dread competing under lights” has the Indian Express claiming that the Indian team haven’t had enough practice under spotlights before Rio. Plus the spectator guide for the Sambadrome has been launched.

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TEAM GB NEWS: Patrick Huston, currently at the Beiter centre in Germany, has put up a new video, this time explaining reversals. Watch it right here!

Patrick and GBR coach Richard Priestman also shared this picture of the personalised number plates they’d bought themselves after Patrick qualified for Rio during the European Championships in May. Yowza!

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Patrick also appears on the cover of the current edition of Bow International, where inside you can read my personal account, plus pics, of what I got up to in Shanghai. Lots of insider information, and even some jokes. It’s available in better-stocked newsagents, or you can buy and read it digitally on a phone or tablet too (search for Bow International in your app store).

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Crispin Duenas filled in this hand-written who-I-am piece for the Canadian Olympic Association. Whee!

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Finally, over at World Archery, we’ve hit number one on the Greatest Of All Time list. Inevitably, it had to be Kim Soo-Nyung, the all-time medal leader in the modern era, and a lady who managed to get back into the Korean national team after not even touching a bow for six years.

There wasn’t quite enough space to share the full anecdote she mentioned about the last round in 1988, where she mentioned not being distracted by the photographers. She actually cited a well-known Korean folk tale about a calligrapher called Han Seok Bong, which I am going to quote here from this website:

Long ago in a small village far from here, a boy named Han Seok Bong lived with his mother. She sold rice cakes for a living, and their family was poor. Because of their poverty, they could not afford to send Seok Bong to school. He stayed home by himself all day.

Sometimes Seok Bong would amuse himself by writing his letters in the dirt in front of their home. One day, a gentleman happened to pass by and praised the boy’s talent at calligraphy. From that point on, Seok Bong worked hard on writing his letters.

Seok Bong’s mother saw her son’s diligence and skill. She determined to send him to the temple so he could improve his skills by studying with the masters. Seok Bong was happy for the chance to go and learn, but the thought of living away from his mother made him sad.

“The art of writing is more than just talent,” his mother told him. “Practice is essential. You must study and work hard for ten years, and don’t give a second thought about home.”

Three years passed by. Seok Bong worked hard and studied diligently. He determined he had learned all that he could, and decided to leave the temple and return home to his village.

When he reached the mountain near his village he began to run. We he saw the gate to his house he ran even faster. He burst though the gate, and with a loud voice he cried, “Mother!”

His mother was busy cutting rice cakes. She looked up at him and said, “Has it been ten years? Why have you come back so soon?”

“There is nothing left for me to learn at the temple,” he replied. From now on I will take care of you.”

“I don’t want to be taken care of,” his mother replied. “What I want most is for you to become an outstanding young man of character.”

“Let’s see how well you have learned,” she said. “We will have a contest. I will cut my rice cakes, and you write your letters. We will see if you are yet a master.”

They each assembled their materials. Seok Bong began to write, and his mother began to cut her rice cakes.

Then his mother blew out the lamp. The room was pitch black.

After a while, she lit the lantern again. The letters Seok Bong had written in the dark were crooked. Some were big, some were small. However, the rice cakes his mother had cut were each exactly the same size.

Seok Bong gathered his materials, stood up and bowed to his mother.

“I am sorry,” he said. And he returned straightway to the temple.

After seven more years of study, Seok Bong returned home. His mother greeted him with joy.

Han Seok Bong’s skill as a calligrapher became known far and wide, even as far away as the courts of China.

This moral story is usually told to young people about the value of humility, because we never learn all there is to know. But Kim Soo-Nyung was quoting it (if I have this right) from the point of view of the mother; getting on with what you have practiced with total discipline and ignoring other people, whatever they are up to.

Bye!

 

 

 

 

35 days to go… archery & Olympics news

1 July, 2016

All the news that’s fit to print!

The media are waking up to the fact that Rio is actually on, and the profile pieces are starting to trickle in. First up, a piece with the USA’s Zach Garrett.

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#teamflatcap

TeamGB has confirmed that, as expected, Great Britain will be sending Naomi Folkard and Patrick Huston to Rio, and they got kitted out for the formalwear round along with coach Richard Priestman and biomechanical witch-doctor Olly Logan. Patrick also appeared in a BBC Norn’ Ironed preview piece:

India have selected Atanu Das to be the sole men’s shooter in Rio, after the Indian men failed to gain three spots in Antalya. Over in Australia, Alice Ingley has been confirmed as the women’s team rep in Brazil, after some selection drama.

The Indian media seem to be maintaining their familiar standards of being aggressively rude and sexist towards Deepika Kumari, too, as reported in this slightly weird preview piece about Indian Olympians.

“All eyes were on [Kumari] as she spoke about her mental preparations when she suddenly snapped momentarily. “Don’t stare at me like that,” she told those around her. “I get very conscious.”

Also, USA Archery have named their team for the Paralympics after the final trials.

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Olympic history: curious but very interesting piece on the history of athlete’s villages, from Inside The Games. 

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Pic via http://www.joongdo.co.kr/

Gratuitous Ki Bo Bae news of the week: she even gets photographed in the airport coming back from Antalya. Ki Bo Bae also appears in this film (firing a gun) from the main Korean broadcaster KBS which gets broadcast next week on Thursday July 6, and appears to be a full-length documentary about archery. Watch the trailer for ‘Game Of Numbers’ here.

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NB: do you live in Korea? Can you tell me if this is gonna have English subs? (I know some KBS programmes do). Do you know how to record TV programmes with soft or hard-coded subtitles? Do you want to be my friend for ever and ever?…

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Korean TV is also currently filming a young-adult drama called ‘Boys Archery Club‘ starring someone famous from a K-Pop band, which starts in July apparently, and is watchable on the web. I’m guessing it’s probably more about boys and less about archery, but if I come across it I’ll fill you in on the link.

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RIO: looks like they’ve finally finished the velodrome. Whoo! And they’ve got fruits. Lots of them! In the unlikely event you’re reading this and still wondering whether to go to Rio and watch the archery or not, it should be noted that tickets are still available for all sessions, starting from a highly reasonable 50 reals (about £10 / $13). Tickets for the Paralympics are wildly cheaper, starting from just 10 reals. Let’s hope the famed last minute ticket buyers get stuck in.

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Over at WA, the Olympic cycle is over for some, and Natalia Valeeva, one of the handful of six-time Olympians, has announced her retirement, along with Berengere Schuh of France.

The Korean team is doing that practicing in a baseball stadium thing again.

The number 2 archer on the best Olympian list is the USA legend Darrell Pace. This one was a little bit tricky to do for various reasons, but turned out pretty well. Amazing guy. Just one more to go.

Finally, you should all watch this amazing  doc about coach ‘Sally’ Park and her mission to make Olympic archers out of Malawians. I was lucky enough to meet her and her charge David Areneo in Shanghai. Very emotional in places. Well worth your time:

Bye!

42 days to go: archery and Olympics news

24 June, 2016

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Pic: DutchTarget.com / World Archery

So Antalya happened. In blistering heat of 40°C / 104 F, the Korean team made, and won, every gold medal match.  No cracks in the team armour at all, although the individual bronze matches saw some action. There was a sterling performance from Brasil, making the men’s team finals and shooting well but overcome by a seriously impressive USA men’s team. Tan Ya Ting of Chinese Taipei turned heads by beating both Ki Bo Bae and Chang Hye Jin on her way to individual bronze.  Choi Misun continued her dominant run and has to be individual favourite in the Sambadrome in six weeks time.  The compound finals… weren’t that thrilling, really. Sorry. Well done to the Turkish compound talent finally, deservedly breaking into the medals though.

For a lot of squads, the tournament was almost a sideshow compared to the final Rio qualifier, and it’s hard to take conclusions for the summer that haven’t already been drawn.  Germany had a disastrous meet, failing to upgrade individual places to the full team spots their ranking easily suggested should be theirs. Today, they announced they will send Lisa Unruh and Florian Floto to Rio.

As Antalya was the last World Cup of the year – there are only three stages in Olympic years – the line-up for the World Cup final has been finalised. There’s plenty of new entrants as well as familiar faces: Brady Ellison will be back for a record seventh consecutive final.

Source: http://rio2016.olympics.com.au

RIO NEWS. It’s really not been the best week for Rio 2016, with athletes getting robbed and ticket sales still sluggish.  Some big name golfers have pulled out citing the Zika virus, although reading around there is a sneaking suspicion that it’s just not that high up the priority list. I personally think golf has no place in the Olympics, TV draw or not. It’s a long way from being the pinnacle of the sport, and that’s what it should be. Hopefully next month will be like London 2012 at the same stage, when the doom-and-gloom fades and the excitement starts building.

It’s looking like Russia’s track and field athletes won’t be in Brazil in August, but there’s even a possibility the entire Russian delegation might get canned. That would affect the archery profoundly; the Russian women’s team would be expected to make the last eight, and their absence would strengthen several other team challenges. Watch this space.

Gratuitous Ki Bo Bae news: she’s been named on some list as one of the ’50 star athletes’ of Rio. Whee.

For something a bit lighter on Rio but still very interesting, you could watch this video by photographer David Harvey.

 

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GBR have named their Paralympic archery squad for Rio, and given the way everyone seems to be shooting at the moment, I see medals coming home in September. There’s some awesome athletes and some awesome stories too.  In other TeamGB news: the hockey team manager’s odd past has caught up with him.

Patrick Huston has started a series of videos about training and shooting internationally; here’s the first one on how to make a ‘Formaster’ type device, featuring twice-Olympic medallist Richard Priestman. Whoo!

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Kumari joined pic

Doing the Kumari roll. THIS PICTURE COPYRIGHT THE INFINITE CURVE 2016 DON’T STEAL IT AND RUIN IT KTHXBAI

Indian archers are never far from their own country’s sports pages, which are noticeable for their flowery, melodramatic language.  They are also notable for a cavalier attitude towards copyright issues. This report on Antalya uses one of my photographs – I took it at the finals of the World Cup in Wroclaw last year. Apart from making the quality hideous and stripping off the watermark, they’ve also apparently assigned the copyright to someone else! FB? Facebook? Yeah, cheers guys…

Tokyo 2020 are very pleased with their new Olympic emblem. Watch their video about it here.

Over on WA, there’s a veh interesting piece from Ludivine about the growth of archery in France.  On the list of World’s Greatest Olympic Archers, we are down to number three, and serious greatest-of-all-time territory. The incredible Park Sung Hyun.  It felt like a privilege to write it. I’ll leave you with a translated quote I couldn’t fit in, from fellow team member and Korean legend Yun Mi Jin. The question was: Who do you admire most?

“Though we only have 1 year apart, I would pick Park Sung Hyun, the player with two consecutive wins at Athens Olympic Games. Now she is a mom of 3 children and a supervisor in Korea’s work team. I was happy to run for various national tournaments next to such a compatible companion with many things to learn from, and I truly enjoyed all the memories and good scoring she presented to me. Not only me, but many people are particularly fond of her. She is the only player in the world to exceed 1400 points in a single round, and her personality is as amazing as her skills.”

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Source: YouTube.com

Bye!

 

49 days to go: archery and Olympics news

17 June, 2016

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There’s been some amazing action in Antalya this week, the final major tournament before Rio.  The main World Cup draw itself didn’t spring too may surprises, but there was a great deal indeed at stake if you had skin in the game in in the final team and individual qualifying tournaments.

The team qualifiers saw many surprises including many strong teams (Germany, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Belarus and the USA women) failing to pick up spots, and a handful of teams finally grabbing what the ranking suggested they deserved.  The final final individual knockout this morning saw more tough breaks and some incredible performances, such as Naomi Folkard of Great Britain battling back from 4-0 down to take the match and a spot. Absolutely boss picture by dutchtarget.com above. The competition continues with the usual Compound Saturday tomorrow and strugglesti… sorry, Recurve Sunday the day after that, when Korea are in every gold medal match. It’s looking ominous. 

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In Rio, the Olympic medal design has been launched with some eco-tastic ribbons, and look pretty damn good, if fairly straightforward. I guess after the recent debacles in Japan people are sticking to the knitting, design wise.  The organisers have also finally come up with the most important thing of all: a slogan. The Games tagline is  ‘A New World‘. Does the job, right?

Looking to the future, the United Arab Emirates are rather confident of making a dent in the archery universe at Tokyo 2020. I suppose if they throw enough money at it, who knows what could happen?

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I previously reported that the Indian archery team would be staying outside the Olympic Village (as more than one team might be doing).  This plan has apparently now been nixed, apparently due to the threat of Zika virus.

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The doping ban on Canadian international Jay Lyon has been upheld and he is suspended for two years. He’s not very happy about it, and gave a detailed interview to the Winnipeg Sun.  He was already unlikely for Rio, but the Canadian teams failed to win any team berths in Antalya this week and will be sending just one man to Rio (Crispin, I presume).

Also, Oscar Ticas of El Salvador has been banned for a year, for an unspecified doping offence.

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Lancaster Archery has an interesting feature about Brady Ellison, with some choice quotes as usual:

“The benefits (of being an Olympic athlete) are mostly that of personal accomplishment – not financial or material things, although once I was recognized and got out of a speeding ticket.”

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This weeks greatest Olympian: the only one on the list not still with us: Hubert Van Innis, from an Olympic era when nations basically set up as many of whatever tournaments they fancied. Sounded like quite a guy. The great-great-grandfather of Sarah Prieels, too.

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The Archery Blogger has an interview with Bryony Pitman, who came within a match or two of an Olympic place in Antalya this morning.

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Finally, someone alerted me to this full length (2hr plus) feature about traditional & barebow archery technique called The Push. I haven’t seen all of it, but it seems to be a well produced and well-thought out piece.  You can watch The Push right here.

Bye!

56 days to go: archery and Olympics news

10 June, 2016

Antalya finals field from drone camera at #AWC2014 Photo: World Archery

Antalya finals field from drone camera at #AWC2014 Photo: World Archery

So, the World Cup stage 3 starts this weekend in the familiar venue of Antalya. It’s always the most popular stage on the tour, being on an upmarket stretch of a Turkish beach resort and with most of the archers in a very nice hotel indeed. Some teams, e.g. India, have been there for a while already. WA preview is here.

This edition apparently now the largest turnout (300+) of recurve archers at a World Cup stage ever, many of them there for the last chance tournament for Rio places on Thursday evening (teams) and Friday morning (individuals). Three team places per gender and at least three individual places per gender are on offer – there may be more depending on what happens in the team rounds.  A staggering 48 men’s teams and 27 women’s teams are going for those spots. (It’s also the final Paralympic qualifier over in the Czech Republic).

Antalya is so busy there are two separate days of qualification, and pretty much every team is out there at full strength in the last major international before the big dance. You can follow along at worldarchery.org from next week, with the usual finals next weekend.

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The FISU World University Archery championships wrapped up in Mongolia this weekend, with a strong Korean team taking a lot of what was on offer, and Rio alternate Kang “The Destroyer” Chae Young sweeping three medals including individual gold. I’m sure she’d happily swap the lot for a trip to Brazil, but hey.

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Speaking of Rio, I was nosing around the Sambadrome venue in Rio on Google Earth, and found something amazing. As you virtually ‘drive’ into the Sambadrome in sunlight, it changes to nighttime at Carnival. If the archery looks anything like this… well bowled. Look for yourself and start exploring here.
Also, World Archery just shared this pic of the Sambadrome – our Sambadrome – under Olympic construction:

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Photo: http://aa.com.tr/

17 year olds Mete Gazoz and Yasemin Ecem Anagoz seem to have been confirmed for Rio after winning their places at the European Championships last month, according to this. They will be the youngest athletes in the Turkish delegation.

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Wider Rio news: Thomas Bach faces a parade of difficult decisions about doping as a Refugees Team is confirmed for the Games, with six track athletes , two swimmers, and two judokas. As for Zika, there’s been a few casualties already.  “Zika cases at Olympics will be ‘close to zero“, says the Brazilian sports minister – but then he would, wouldn’t he? Some other high-profile athletes are taking slightly more dramatic measures including freezing their own sperm.  Also, Team Nigeria aren’t helping their athletes with the sexy times.

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Choi Misun won a MVP award from a Korean women’s sport organisation. Considering she’s the world number one, and one of Korea’s best chances for individual gold in Rio, that’s kind of an understatement. :)

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At WA, there’s news of an interesting new app. This week’s best Olympian: and we’ve hit the top five with Yun Mi Jin, who took individual and team gold at Sydney 2000. She hasn’t actually retired yet, either (whoops…:) ) 

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From Forces TV, there’s a nugget about treating PTSD with archery.  From the Archery Blogger, there’s an interview with Jesse Broadwater.  And finally, an interesting piece about kyudo in California. All archery requires dedication, but the traditional martial art of Japan, even as taught in the West, requires even more:

“This isn’t about archery,” DeProspero says. “It’s about learning Japanese culture. It’s a tea ceremony with a bow and arrow.”…. A lot of people don’t return; the practice takes a long time. I’m not interested in tourists. You have to have a genuine interest.”

Bye!

 

 

63 days to go: archery and Olympics news

3 June, 2016

GBR mens waiting

GBR men’s team waiting for their gold medal match. Photo: © The Infinite Curve 2016


The European Championships
wrapped up in some style last weekend, in the appropriate surroundings of Old Market Square, Nottingham. I was up there on media duties, and wrote a piece about that here. You can also read about the Olympics continental qualifying tournament here, and who will be going to Rio who isn’t already. Congratulations to Jon Nott and team for putting together such a spectacular, smooth-running event.

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Pic by Demir Durak

The Conquest Cup, an invitation-only, cash-prize event in Istanbul as the showpiece of their Okçular Vakfı range (a pet project of the Turkish president, by the way) wrapped up last Sunday, but they’re not big on broadcasting the results.  It looks like ladies recurve was won by Tatiana Biltrikova, with Lin Chia-En second and Karina Winter third. Korea took mixed team. I only know this by literally browsing through unlabelled pictures of the podium. Have a look yourself!

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Currently running in Ulanbataar, Mongolia are the FISU World University Championships. Ranking and team rounds were done today with Park Seongcheol and Kang “The Destroyer” Chae Young topping the recurve pile. No TV coverage I can see, but you can check the results on IANSEO here – or info.worldarchery.org just this weekend.

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Various nations are starting to announce squads for Rio. First up, the USA:

Brady Ellison
Zach Garrett
Jake Kaminski

Mackenzie Brown
Hye Youn Park
Khatuna Lorig

The USA only have one women’s spot qualified, but Mackenzie Brown takes it for finishing top of the trials. Park and Lorig only get to go if the USA women manage to qualify a full team in Antalya. Hye Youn Park is the relative unknown here. She’s originally from Korea, but emigrated to the USA a few years ago (but not in enough time to try for London, under IOC rules). Full details here.

You may also be interested in a parent’s perspective on Zach Garrett making the team.

Australia announced their men’s team and single women’s place after the final stages of their trials. (Video with Taylor Worth here.)

Alec Potts
Ryan Tyack
Taylor Worth

Alice Ingley

….which was extra tough on Semra Ferguson, who won the women’s place at the Oceania qualifier – and is apparently appealing the decision to send Ingley. Full details here.

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Finally, Mexico announced their squad:

Alejandra Valencia
Aida Roman
Gabriela Bayardo

Juan Rene Serrano
Ernesto Boardman
Oldair Zamora

…but just Boardman will be going from the men’s list unless the Mexican men qualify a full team in Antalya. Mariana Avitia, the London bronze medallist, was cut from the trials at an earlier stage. A bigger surprise is Luis Alvarez not making the team, but apparently everyone else was well, better. Full details here (in Spanish).

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Crispin Duenas, as we all know, loves to chat. Here he is talking to the National Post of Canada.  Interesting material on his process as an athlete:

“I love the fact that after every new archery movie comes out we get an influx of people wanting to register for lessons, but I always tell people that what you see in the movies isn’t necessarily what we actually do. You can’t do this, you can’t do that, that doesn’t actually happen when you shoot a bow. If they’re lucky enough to be talking to me while I’m holding my bow, I’ll say here, try this. And they’ll pick up my bow and the first thing they’ll say is ‘oh my goodness, that’s really heavy’.”

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Over at WA this week is Tom Dielen’s blog post reflecting on 20 years with World Archery, with lots of fascinating detail – well worth a read. It’s quite sobering to think, with the opening of the amazing WA Excellence Centre this year, that at one point international archery was entirely run from an unremarkable flat in Milan. That looked like this:

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Also over at WA, this week’s all-time greatest Olympic archer is another Italian, Marco Galiazzo. Three consecutive medals (gold, silver, gold) from three consecutive Games. That’s pretty special – possibly unique?

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The Korean team are flaunting their big name kit branding from Head, Elord, and hipster outdoor Korea brand Kolon Sport (who do the shoes).  Glossy promotional video right here – all in Korean, but you’ll get the idea.

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Wider Olympics news: five new sports have been approved for inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 games – baseball, softball, karate, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing. It’s subject to final ratification, but that looks like a formality.  Full details on Inside The Games.  Baseball is huge in Japan, so that’s a no-brainer, and sport climbing looks like it has a lot to offer the lay viewing public.   But skateboarding is easily the most controversial on the list, with the various governing bodies arguing amongst themselves and no-one really sure what an Olympic competition will look like – although there seems to be no doubt that it will be a big TV draw. Some of the Olympic commentariat aren’t impressed.

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Finally, from the Irish Examiner, we have five facts that prove archery is the most interesting sport at the Olympics. I absolutely love the quote from Lida Howell from back in 1904:

“Archery is a picturesque game, the range with its smooth green and distant glowing target with its gold and radiating red, blue, black and white, the white-garbed players, with graceful big bows and flying arrows, makes a beautiful picture.”

Bye!

 

European Archery Championships 2016

30 May, 2016

WIAWIS bow UKR
Nottingham. The home of R***n H**d.  I rankle a bit when I hear the name, because it’s the laziest of lazy journalistic cliches but still gets routinely trotted out whenever target archery is mentioned. When Alison Williamson –  six times an Olympian for Great Britain and an Olympic bronze medallist in 2004 – retired, the Midlands radio show they chose to announce it on played the song. You know. That one. You get the feeling they wouldn’t do that to Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Still, I suppose it did feel appropriate to have the meet here, in a town brimming with mediaeval history.  I was on multi-media duties for the last three days: writing, photographing, interviewing and social media-ing. On finals day, in Old Market Square, I had quickly portrait up winners and losers, which is why a lot of the photos are, well, that.

It was preceded by a continental qualifying tournament,  on the Thursday evening and Friday morning, with six precious Rio spots available and packed with drama and tension, cheers and tears. You can read about that here.

Nott-
Special thanks to Jon Nott and team for pulling together such a remarkable event, with a truly spectacular finals venue, sold out on Sunday. Incredible job. I have no idea how you’d manage something this size. Just brilliant.

And it was a great weekend for GBR: qualifying a place for Rio, making four finals and taking two well-deserved medals, and a crowd keen on making a racket. Moving back towards the top tier.  In the words of Martin Evans, “I think the lion’s claws are starting to grow back”.

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GBR. Pic by Malcolm Rees.

So who won? Full results are here. You can read the news reports I had a hand in, too:

Recurve – individual & mixed team

Recurve – teams

GBR – recurve teams

GBR – Huston

Compound – teams

Compound – individual

As for photos: as well as Dean’s pics from the weekend you can look through the albums of Derek Sizeland, Dean Layton-James, and Bimble, too.  Thanks to everybody, and great to put a few faces to names, too. What a great weekend.

Olympic Continental Qualifying Tournament

Marin practice field

Alicia Marin

FRA practice range

FRA on the practice range

Larry v Mete

Larry v Mete

Larry midstride

Larry midstride

huston w. cameras

ready for my close-up

 

Mete fistbump

Mete fistbump

Mete wide shot

Mete Gazoz

 

huston & notty

winning the Rio place

AZER being carried

winning the Rio place – Azerbaijan

TUR tears

winning the Rio place – Turkey

FINALS DAY  – COMPOUND

finals field rehearsal

dress rehearsal

GBR compound

GBR ladies compound

GBR & NED compound ladies

GBR & NED compound ladies

Turkey compound ladies

FRA compound men

FRA compound men

DEN compound men

DEN compound men

Prieels after win

Sarah Prieels

Vinogradova w. bow

Mariaa Vinogradova

Hansen

Stephan Hansen

FINALS – RECURVE SUNDAY

Robin Hood silhouette

this guy

UKR warmup 3

UKR warmup

RUS warmup

RUS warmup

Daniel warmup

Lucas Daniel warmup

GBR men

GBR recurve men

GBR & GER ladies

GBR & GER recurve ladies

UKR ladies

UKR recurve ladies

GBR mens waiting 2

the wait

GBR recurve ladies wide from rear

full house for GBR

Patrick thumbs

Patrick – thumbs

Moldova win

MOLDOVAAAAA!

Veronika

Veronika Marchenko

Unruh

Lisa Unruh

Valladont win w. poster

Jean-Charles Valladont