Category Archives: AWC

a tale from Salt Lake

25 June, 2018

pic via

It was a little difficult to engage fully with the Salt Lake stage of the World Cup this year, living in Europe, as due to someone’s frankly ropey idea of scheduling, the individual matches started past midnight. As a stage, it doesn’t seem to have taken off quite as everyone was hoping; apart from the coverage and the sparse audience, an increasing number of teams skipped it this year and the winds seemed even more capricious than the 2017 outing. No one wants to watch a lottery; although it was noticeable how the very, very best always have less trouble with the wind than others.

But this caught my eye when I was looking through the qualification results. Sarah Sonnichsen, who became the world number one compound archer last year, shot just two arrows out in the desert, then packed up her bow.

Anyone who has been following either of her Instagram feeds this year could not have failed to notice something wrong. She finally put a post up yesterday morning, which I’m going to quote in full:

“This is going to be a very long and honest post. As a lot of people have noticed my score from Salt Lake City is not there and there’s a reason why you can’t see it. As many people also know I’ve really been struggling the past half year or so. I wasn’t feeling good in China, I quit Redding, Turkey was a fight for me and Salt Lake was just too much. 😕 After Turkey I actually took two weeks off from shooting to get some help and I thought I was ready for Salt Lake so that’s why I went here thinking I could handle it but when we had to shoot qualification, the wind was just insane and feeling this way plus the wind and on top of that having a really bad flu was just way too much for me to handle and I completely broke down. No one and I really mean no one should feel the way I felt standing on the shooting line having a complete panic attack.☝🏼 So no I didn’t shoot Salt Lake.
And because of everything there’s going on with me right now I will also be taking a break when I get home. Not from shooting because I still enjoy shooting; I still want to shoot, but I will be taking a break off from shooting competitions for a while until I get my head back to where it’s supposed to be and until I feel completely ready and I get this under control again. I can’t say for how long but I know this is something I have to do for myself. I know I can shoot. I know I’m a good archer. Right now my head is just not in a place where I can shoot what I’m capable of which has shown on most of my results the past 1/2 year. And yes it sucks and I should probably have done this before. But now I’m doing what I need to do to feel better. And hopefully I’ll come out even stronger in the end and I’ll be back to shooting what I’m capable of!😆
People who know me knows this is a really tough decision for me. I’m not good at feeling ‘weak’ and taking a break from archery is not something I’ve ever done before. I usually just push through it. But this time I’ve realized I can’t just push through it. My mind and body is just saying no. I need to take care of myself right now but don’t worry! You guys aren’t gettin rid of me so easy. I will be back!🤣”

It’s a salient reminder that archery as a sport doesn’t exist in a bubble, and depression and mental illness can strike anyone, anywhere, no matter how effective or successful or professional. People are archers, but they are also human; and they have plenty more to deal with as well as competition. Given it is a sport which relies on a iron-cast mental game, raised at will to compete at the highest level, it makes me wonder just how many other archers are suffering (I know of at least two others dealing with similar issues in one way or another).

I hope its needless to say, but everyone is looking forward to seeing Sarah back in competition as soon as she’s well enough to  compete.

New rules, new strategies in target competition (and an idea)

17 January, 2018

The decision of the World Archery executive board to make some changes to World Cup competition is great news. You can read the full post here, but here’s the juicy bits:

…the winner of each stage of the circuit automatically qualifies for the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final.

As they note, this wouldn’t have made a lot of difference to the Final line-ups in recent years, but will increase the importance of the gold medal match, especially to broadcasters and highlights packages. It also makes the final stages a little more exciting.

An adjustment to medal match procedures on the circuit sees the higher-seeded athlete choosing to shoot first or second, and the lower-seeded athlete on the left or right target.

This adds just a little bit of strategy to the play. There are always a few athletes who claim – rightly or wrongly – that the wind affects one target more than another. I suspect based on my limited experience that most of the time this simply is not true, but if athletes believe it to be true, then it may as well be. 🙂

Only the top two seeds at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final will be pre-seeded at the top and bottom of the bracket, with the other six competitors drawn out of a hat two days prior to the event.

This mixes things up just a little and may well result in the ‘home’ athletes getting a slightly more favourable draw and more than one match, which is good news for audiences.

Generally speaking, I am in favour of increased strategic elements to matchplay, on the grounds that it will increase the audience for archery and drive TV figures, which I think ultimately will be good for the sport.

I think they could even go a bit further. 🙂 I’m going to share with you an idea I had about shoot-offs, to add a deep strategic element and allow for maximum drama under pressure. See what you think!  Leave me a comment here or on Facebook. Suggestions and brickbats equally welcome:

A shoot-off is declared.

The archers choose who goes first by coin toss, or it is decided randomly in the scoring software.

The first archer due to shoot shoots ONE arrow.

He then gets the choice as to whether to shoot a second arrow or let it stand. (YES/NO)

He indicates this choice to the judge.

If NO, he lets the arrow stand as scored and his opponent gets to shoot ONE arrow, and the closest wins as usual (just like a normal shoot-off).

If YES, his first arrow is removed from the target, and he shoots another.

This becomes his scoring shoot-off arrow.

His opponent then gets to shoot TWO arrows. The closest one to the centre counts as his shoot-off arrow.

Whichever archer is closest to the centre wins as usual.

Anyway… looking forward to this outdoor season a little more now. 🙂


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, 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.

World Cup Shanghai – Days 1&2

27 April, 2016

Some photos from the first couple of days. There was a lot of tension in the air, and I went looking for ‘portraits’, mostly. Little vignettes. Enjoy.


Deepika Kumari.


Song Jiyung


Alejandra Valencia


Muto Hiroki


Lee Seongjun


Christian Weiss


So Chun Ngai


Daniel Areneo


Zach Garrett


Brady Ellison


Aida Roman


Karla Hinojosa



Yuki Hayashi


Still Life #1


Still Life #2


Lin Shih Chia


Kim Chaeyun


Deepika Kumari





WA on the town

World Cup Shanghai 2016 – preview

23 April, 2016


Yuanshen Stadium, Shanghai. Photo: Sun Alex

The World Cup season is upon us, and it’s very short indeed in this Olympic year.  There are three events rather than four:  Shanghai starts next week on the 26th April, after that many of the archers will be flying directly to Medellin which begins on the 9th May, with South American qualification places for Rio up for grabs. The last stage before Rio in Antalya on the 12th June will be particularly full of drama as the last Olympic qualifying tournament, with 24 team and individual places available for the big dance. Finally, there will be the showcase grand final in Odense, Denmark in September.

It will be interesting to see who is on form in Shanghai, the familiar opener to the season and the firmest fixture in the World Cup calendar. The qualifying is still at the Yuanshen Stadium, but this year, for the first time, the finals will not be held on the familiar waterfront by the Huangpu river. The finals field is now on the nearby Lujiazui Green, with some spectacular fountains and the archers shooting over water (reminiscent of the old Copenhagen World Cup venue). Shanghai has the biggest crowds of any of the World Cup events, and was a sellout last year. This should be a great edition.


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Most teams seem to be sending full-strength first teams, with one noticeable absence  – Korea.
They are sending their top recurve cadets, all aged 17-20, for some international experience in Shanghai – although all their senior compounders will be in action. Ukraine also appear to be absent, and the Brazilian first team too – they are deep into internal selection tournaments.  The Italian recurves are currently training in South America, last I heard.

I’m getting on a plane tomorrow and going to Shanghai once again to work for World Archery on the comms team, so you can find me over here. Will also be updating you with pictures here. Stay tuned!  John.



Ki Bo Bae news – “as the principle goes, no exceptions is”

28 March, 2014


It’s a sad day for The Infinite Curve when Ki Bo Bae, reigning Olympic champion, and number two in the world, hasn’t made it onto the Korean squad for this year, after failing to make the top eight during the selection shoot this week. Perhaps even more surprising, Yun Ok Hee, last year’s World Cup champion and world number one failed to make the top eight too. This means neither is likely to shoot in the upcoming World Cup events or the Asian Games this summer. The top eight in women’s recurve included some better known names like Joo Hyun-Jung and Chang Hye-Jin, and the men’s list was pretty familiar. But there’s a big Ki Bo Bae shaped hole in the calendar this year.

It’s always difficult trying to pull information in English off the internet about Korean archers. I don’t think any of us who aren’t in the system have the faintest idea what it takes to get into, let alone stay in the Korean national team – it’s frequently described as ‘harder than winning the Olympics’.


Even via the joys of Korean -> English machine translation, it’s pretty brutal. “Aces are eliminated, the Association recommends always talk [when] the national team players are out. Exceptions, but when you start putting it into a precedent. Principles as the existing players to get the stimulus, can be daunting to new players. Yun Ok Hee, and Ki Bo Bae also a star through such a process.”  Ouch. 

The fact that the Korean sports press are asking these questions seems to suggest that the archery public are going to miss Ki and Yun, and there is a perception that the KAA should find a way to get them onto the team. It certainly would be a blow to the Asian Games to run a competition without two reigning champions in the ‘majors’.  There is, however, a lot to be said for brutal transparency in sporting selection, given the opaque nature of the procedures employed by some archery NGBs and several other sports on a similar ‘level’ as archery e.g. this pre-London 2012 row over taekwondo.

Still, looking forward to that comeback in 2015, otherwise I guess it’s back to the bizarre entertainment shows. Unless it’s time for that previously mentioned move to London? We can dream.