“After Rio comes Tokyo. I want to make it to the Tokyo Olympics.”

30 December, 2015

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SEOUL: Newsis.  Ki Bo Bae: “I’m shooting 450 arrows day preparing for the Rio Olympics. But right now, the national selection tournament is more nerve-jangling than Rio.”

During an interview that took place this 22nd December at Korea National Training Center Archery Field, ‘Empress of Archery’ Ki Bo Bae (27 years old, Gwangju City Hall), a double gold medalist of archery at the 2012 London Olympics and Gwangju Summer Universiade, had this to say:

“The Brazil Olympics is due for next year, but the national selection tournament is first in line. I’m trying my best to cope with the anxiety I get from thinking about all of the talented archers that I will be competing against in that tournament.”

“To take part in this competition is extremely tough. It lasts for 6 to 7 days, so the score of the day is entirely dependent on my condition. I can never lose my focus and tension, and I’m nervous at every moment.”

“When I’m in the national team, I have the tendency to put all of my concentration on the score, leading me to overlook many other aspects of being an athlete: but I fixed all those aspects when I was eliminated from the national team (in 2014)”, stated Ki.

“After leaving the national team, I felt rather refreshed. You’re like a hamster running on its wheel: the Olympic village life kept repeating on an ongoing cycle, from early morning to night. It was very exhausting, so life outside of training was free as free could be. These things actually were good to release all of my energy, and I had a great time.”

Ki mentioned, “For this year, there were many, many shoot-offs in the national tournament. In preparation for this, I also had to work on my shoot-offs.”

The set rule is changing for the team match, with Rio marking its first Olympic start. Due to many matches ending in a draw, a shoot-off in which results an overtime match will be very important. When each player shoots an arrow and a tie is given as the score, the archer who shoots closer to the centre takes the win.  Through training simulation, the national team is practicing concentration – and in the complicated selection process procedure around 8% of the total final score will be based on shoot-off performance.

“The Olympics that come every four years may not last long, but it’s not like that for the players. It’s where I’m playing as a national representative, therefore making it a place I want to achieve everything I couldn’t (elsewhere).”

Continuing, Ki said, “In time for winter, I’m spending a lot of time on weight training and fitness-orientated training. With the help of psychological counselling, I’ve also been trying to deal with the pressure increasing as the match approaches.”

When we asked about the struggles of having to train in the bitterly cold weather, Ki replied, “We train indoors where a hole is punctured through a window covered in plastic, which means it’s not cold enough for your hands to freeze up. The environment is organized so that the archers train well, so practicing is pain-free.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: it’s not pain-free for everyone)

Considering that this is Ki’s second Olympic experience, we questioned whether she’s willing to make more appearances in any future competitions. With strong determination, Ki stated firmly: “After Rio comes Tokyo. I want to make it to the Tokyo Olympics.”

At least reading the press, there seems to be a particularly brutal, tough-it-out approach to winter training among Korean Olympic athletes, with temperatures in Seoul only a few degrees above zero. Plus if I have parsed this right, the whole squad are being sent up a freezing mountain again for New Year’s Day – just like last year.

Via this news piece from Newsis. Thanks to Jessica Cho.