Kang Chae Young: what it takes

5 April, 2016

Hong Ji-soo

Pic by Hong Ji-soo

Today is the 120th anniversary of the modern Olympic Games, which you can read about here.  It’s also a day when the Korea Archery Association has further whittled down their squad towards the exulted threes who will go to – almost certainly – take some gold medals back to Seoul from this year’s ‘big dance’ in Rio.

Regular readers will know of my particular fascination with Korean Olympic archery. Someone in Archery GB – the UK governing body – once said to me words to the effect of “you should be concentrating your blog on archery at home”. To which I replied “You don’t have a pop at Match Of The Day for mostly focussing on the Premier League, do you?”. I didn’t actually say that. I thought of it two minutes later. Of course.

The dedication required to be a world-class Olympian in any sport is immense. The dedication to being a world-class Olympic archer is off the actual chart. The genetic lottery is less important – not everybody can be Usain Bolt – but the mental discipline required simply staggers me. I don’t have it. I don’t have anything like it.  I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by elite archery.

So it’s not often you get a glimpse into what it really takes at the highest level, which I why I’m grateful for this English language interview with last year’s rookie Kang “The Destroyer” Chae Young from late last year.  This is taken from Kyung Hee University’s news blog, her current school (and also the alma mater of Yun Mi Jin).  It’s worth your time.

There are a lot of people who have dreams but do not put much effort into achievement. However, there is nothing we can accomplish without hard work. We cannot get anything for free. Kang Chae Young, a freshman in the Dept. of Sports Medicine, KHU, is an archer and member of the 2015 Korean national team. She has set a goal and always tried to achieve it from a young age. She won 15 medals in the first half of 2015.

Q: You are famous for acquiring a lot of medals in one year. How do you feel about being a super rookie?

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I did not realize that I won a lot of them. However, I am very pleased with the medals. They are rewards for my efforts. I got good scores because I did not stop participating in competitions from April to August including the first World Cup of the World Archery Federation held in Shanghai, China and the 2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade. The most memorable game was the first World Cup Recurve where I won three gold medals in women’s individual, team and mixed game. At that moment, I was very happy. However, I still have a lot of improvements to make. My ability must advance enough to do well in further competitions. A few days ago, in the National Championships, I earned a gold medal and two silver medals. There, I had to receive two silver medals instead of gold medals because I missed only a single point. I decided to overcome my shortcomings with continued efforts. I have to try harder than I did in the past.

Q: How much time and efforts do you invest in archery?

It is important for all archers to shoot arrows every day. Whenever games are coming up, I do extra practice at night and on weekends. Usually, we get break time on Saturday nights and Sundays. But to be a more outstanding player than anyone, I try to do extra. I keep concentrating on hitting the target while thinking that I will shoot more precisely than any other archers. My left hand has held a bow for long hours at a time so it is callused. Also, my shoulders easily get hurt after a lot of harsh training. These made me difficult to focus on archery and I easily get worried about future competitions. However, even in the situation when the weather was bad, I have done regular practice for six hours enduring pains in my shoulders.

Q: What motivates you to train this hard?

Setting and reaching goals motivate me to strive harder. Although I get exhausted from training hard, I never give up. I have to bear this to become a much better athlete. Harsh training is essential. Actually, I like to achieve a goal after setting it. I can feel a sense of accomplishment after doing it. For example, I am better at aiming at targets when I am in games than in practice because I have a goal to be awarded more medals.

At the same time, Kang is like any other young, bright girl in her twenties. She mentioned that she is on a diet while revealing how she enjoys eating delicious food. The interview was progressed until almost 8 p.m. which was the difficult time to grab something to eat. She expected this to happen and had prepared some bread and a cup of ice tea. It seems that she is also very considerate of others.

Q: Then, what is your dream?

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In the short run, I want to be selected as an archer for the Korean national team for 2016 and attend Brazil Olympics held in the summer. My dream is to earn gold medals both in individual and team games like Ki Bo-bae, a remarkable archer. After a few years, I have the desire to be a great medalist and have a place in the history of Korea with a grand slam title. The reason I do not have an exact role model of an athlete is that I want to surpass all of them. In the long run, I will be a member of the Korean national team for 10 years from now. To achieve it, first, I will try to estimate myself better during the competitions. I usually have practiced the archery with low self-esteem. I have kept thinking of myself as poor and lacking necessary capabilities. I have never bragged about myself. However, I now notice that if I continue to do so, I would become more nervous in games and cannot show my real abilities. From now on, I will concentrate on upcoming games with the confidence and the responsibility as a representative of Korea.

Q: You may have given up on normal life, such as being a university student, to become an archer. What do you miss most?

I miss going on dates or hanging out with friends the most. Since my daily life is occupied with shooting arrows, it is difficult for me to enjoy their company. I also miss my school life as a freshman. I want to have blind dates or go on orientation trips with friends. Last semester, I applied for a yachting class but I could not attend it. I wish I could take that course again. I do not feel bad that I can only attend classes once or twice each semester. I love training and staying here in the Korean National Training Center in Taereung. I can overcome the circumstances because such experience is vital for me to accomplish my dream.

Q: Could you advise those who do not have a goal at all or put little effort toward a goal?

When people are living without a goal, life is meaningless. I hope they can find what they want no matter how long it takes. They will regret it later when they look back at their past full of meaninglessness. When setting a goal, I hope they can choose not only what they like but also what they are interested in. For those who pour fewer efforts into obtaining goals, planning even smaller things would be helpful.

Kang emphasizes, “Life is a competition. It is essential for us to make continual efforts to move our dreams forward.” In these words, the UL felt her passion and strong will to overcome further hardships and to make her dream come true.

Original interview by By Kim Eun-chong

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