Tag Archives: Asian Games

thoughts on Shanghai 2018

30 April, 2018

Takahuru Furukawa   Photo: World Archery

Shanghai came and went. The firmest fixture on the circuit, as they say.  I was sad not to be there, but the jet lag is a nightmare and if you’d stood outside breathing the air for a week and felt the hacking cough develop at the top of your throat, you might want to skip it next year too.  It’s also a tricky one as a spectator in Europe, because the team finals start at three o’clock in the morning in Europe, and even dedicated archery nerds like me are going to struggle to pull that off on a Sunday morning. (Full disclosure: I set the alarm, but gave up).

If there was a theme it, was: the big Asian teams have something on the agenda. The recurve category was notable for resurgent performances by Japan and especially the host nation China, who have been relatively quiet on the international scene since an indifferent Olympics. (I heard a rumour that huge numbers of Chinese Olympic athletes had been put on winter sports programs in advance of Beijing 2022, and I wondered if they’d got the archery team too). The quadrennial Asian Games, being held in Indonesia this year in August, are around the corner, and all the big teams are keen to make a mark.

It’s difficult to explain how big a deal the Asian Games is. The biggest multi-sport event outside the Olympics by some considerable distance, it is the ultimate sport-as-substitute-for-war; played out against a background of fierce historical and geopolitical rivalries, especially for the biggest nations: Japan, China, and South Korea. It has a lot of internal history too, running since 1951, with archery an event since 1978.

The Korean team count an individual medal at the Asian Games as part of their fabled ‘triple crown’ of archery success: Olympic individual gold, a World Championship title, and a gold medal at the Asian Games. (If I have this right, many have come close, but the only person to achieve this perfectly has been Park Sung-Hyun). It’s a second Olympics, really. A soccer analogy, if you’re in Europe, would be the status of the European Championships against the the World Cup. It’s almost right up there.

Peng Chia-Mao   Photo: World Archery

On the finals stage, the Indonesian mixed team of Ega Egatha Riau and Diananda Choirunisa put in something very special indeed to deny the USA a bronze medal, showing seriously high quality on the stage. Vanessa Landi was fantastic, too. The women’s team final is worth another look.  Chinese Taipei, who must be getting pretty sick of their reputation as ‘almost as good as Korea’, seemed to show a bit more composure on the stage, and kept things a lot tighter than before. They were probably a bit unlucky to lose. With Lei Chien Ying back in form and on frontline duties after a personal decline in 2016 and 2017, it’s just, just possible they could finally push past their great rivals in white, who, unfortunately, looked as good as ever. The trouble with Korea, is even when they seem really under threat, they have an incredible knack of pulling matches out of the bag. 


Chang Hyejin is now firmly established in her role as both captain and anchor, as the senior hand. She was executing incredibly well, with a pace and crispness to her shot that reminded me of the day she won in Rio. The businesslike momentum of someone at the very, very top of their game. And she managed to give everyone a moment of pure joy with the second end of her individual final: three in the x ring barely three centimetres apart. Watch it again here. I sensed we haven’t seen the last of the silver medallist An Qixuan either.

The changes in finals structure with the ‘inline’ medal ceremonies immediately after category events, trialled in Yankton, was a resounding success watching as a spectator – keeping the crowd in their seats, speeding up the processes of athlete wrangling, and breaking up the day nicely.

The other big change was the Falco Eye output, showing the grouping of the arrows, finally made part of the production graphics. It’s still fairly rudimentary, but I’m really excited about it; I think it is going to be a powerful tool to increase archery as a spectator sport. Archery is woefully short of live statistical analysis at the moment. Imagine, after a team match, being able to instantly rank players, award a man of the match trophy, and prove who was the strongest. It’s going to be really, really important.

Archery & Money

3 November, 2014

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At the recent Asian Games, Korean archers and coaches collectively received nearly 880 million won (over £500,000 / $800,000) in bonuses from their sponsor Hyundai for the five golds, three silvers and one bronze medal they took home from Incheon.

The going rate for a gold medal is 70 million won (about £41,000 / $65,000), with 60 million won for a silver and 50 for a bronze. Not bad, and apparently more than the government bonus for Olympic gold medals in 2012 –  although in Korea that also gets you a monthly stipend for life. Hyundai handed out similar bonuses to the medallists after London, and indeed Korea’s big corporations step in with cash for all kinds of Olympic sports, and become fairy godfathers to many types of athletes.

Many nations dole out cash for Olympic success. The top payer is Singapore, who sent just 26 athletes to London, offering $800,000 dollars to any of their sportsmen who take home a gold medal (although in 2012, this prize went unclaimed). The ‘table’ looks like this:

  • Singapore $800,000 (gold)
  • Thailand: $314,000 (gold)
  • Philippines: $237,000 (gold)
  • Kyrgyzstan: $200,000 (gold)
  • Italy: $182,000 (gold)
  • Uzbekistan: $150,000 (gold)
  • Ukraine: $100,000 (gold) / $75,000 (silver) / $50,000 (bronze)
  • Tajikistan: $63,000 (gold)
  • China: $31,400 (gold)
  • Ghana: $20,000 (gold)
  • Australia: $20,000 (gold)

However, of the developed G8 countries, the gold payout table looks like this:

Pic from canadianbusiness.com

more countries’ bonus details here

(Yes, that’s right. Unlike almost every country in the world, Britain pays nothing at all for Olympic achievement.)

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As for Korea, I am increasingly convinced that the main reason that that nation dominates the sport isn’t the training regime, or the talent identification system, or the professional leagues – it’s the money. In the case of the KAA, something like half the operating budget ultimately comes from Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia Motors. The historical reason for this is that in the early 1980s the authoritarian government leaned on their big corporations to fund Olympic sports – specifically, less popular sports – by giving them tax breaks to do so. This involved Hyundai actually taking over the NGB – thus began the Korean archery machine.

The governments changed, but over time the corporations came to see funding Olympic sports as both an excellent overseas marketing opportunity and a useful, very public exercise in social responsibility. The success of Korean archery and the success of Hyundai/Kia reflect each other; a win-win situation. The KAA and its powerful sponsor remain deeply entwined today, as was seen in Incheon when its formidable patron and chairman Chung Eui-Sun – vice-chairman of Hyundai – took the extraordinary step of rebuilding sections of the archery field after complaints were raised by the attending media. The immense amount of corporate funding allows for a deep pool of dozens of professional athletes to develop to their fullest potential, rather than the two or three per generation in every other country. That’s the real ‘secret’.

So, how can any other nation compete with that?  I still think archery in the UK could attract sponsorship money, because it is invariably intriguing and dramatic to laymen – it’s saleable, and it’s hot right now (certainly compared to many other sports). The entry barriers are lower; partly because it needs much less ‘explaining’ than some other sports. World Archery has managed to pull in long-term deals from a wide variety of international brands with very different markets and brand values.

Of course, the Korean national team is the only archery squad in the world with that kind of cash ‘carrot’ at the end of a non-Olympic competition, and indeed,  that kind of patronage, but it is ultimately indicative of a culture. South East Asia highly values its Olympic sportsmen and women and sees international achievement as a deep source of national pride, and its oligarchical system rewards that accordingly (it should be noted that the Asian Games is played out against a daunting backdrop of fierce historical rivalries). In the UK, unless you play cricket or football you receive little more than a pat on the back and a ‘jolly good show’ from the establishment.

The cult of the amateur is over.  Unfortunately, international success in sport needs money, spent professionally and ruthlessly.

Thanks to DarkMuppet at Archery Interchange. 

 

Archery at the Asian Games – Day 6 (recurve finals)

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After a tournament which briefly looked like it was veering dangerously away from the script followed by previous Asiads, the recurve finals finally delivered the hoped-for ‘Golden Sunday’ for the home nation.

After the shock semi-final defeat for the Korean men’s team on Friday – the first at an Asian Games for over thirty years – they had to suffer the relative indignity of fighting it out with Japan for the bronze medal, which they won 5 sets to 3. Japan came back in the third end to tie the score, but sent down two eights in the final end to hand the Korean men the bronze and a sliver of self-esteem.

The gold medal match was contested between China and Malaysia, who had unexpectedly beaten Japan to book their place here. It was a one-sided affair that saw the Chinese men comprehensively outscore their opponents to take gold.

“We hadn’t expected that we could win so fast,” said Yong Zhiwei. “But we believed in ourselves. We had faith in the team. Mu Yong, the manager of the Chinese archery team, said: “They showed no fear at all.”

In the women’s team event, Japan beat India for the bronze medal, capping a miserable week for India’s recurves who left the competition empty-handed after their compound teammates grabbed four medals yesterday and sent India into the overall top ten.

In the gold match, the pressure was weighing heavy on the Korean ladies to beat China – particularly after their last two finals ended in defeat, and the Chinese team had beaten them in competition as recently as June. In the end, they needn’t have worried. After three tense sets that saw the Chinese archers’ form fall away – they hit the ten ring just twice – the crowd roared and Korea had their precious recurve gold, with an emotional team bursting into tears afterwards. Lee Tuk-Young said afterwards: “There’s been some incredibly hard work over the last ten months, but I’m really glad to be part of history.” She also credited ‘elder sister’ Joo Hyun-Jung, who was unable to take part in the team event due to injury, as part of the team’s success “because our hearts beat as one”, in an elegant illustration of the particularly deep emotional bond between KAA teams.

The individual competition brought another Chinese medal, as Xu Jing took the bronze medal match from Japan’s Ren Hayakawa 7-3 after being 3-1 down after two ends. In the men’s bronze match, Kuo Cheng Wei of Chinese Taipei beat Hideki Kikuchi 6-2 to finish a relatively disappointing meet for Japan’s highly consistent recurvers, who would definitely have hoped for more. Japan, along with China, were also the only major archery nations not to send a compound squad.

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The women’s individual field inevitably came down to the two Koreans in-form this year, and Jung Dasomi thumped Chang Hye-Jin 7-1 in a gold medal match that saw her miss the middle just twice in twelve arrows. She finished the job with a 10-10-10 end.

The men’s gold match saw the familiar hulking frame of Oh Jin-Hyek, the Olympic champion, take on the young Chinese athlete – and apparently, ‘ladies man‘ – Yong Zhiwei, who had already won a gold medal that morning in the team event. The crowd went silent as Yong raced out to a 4-0 lead, before his form slipped and Oh reeled off three straight sets to take the title, looking relieved after a final end that saw both archers wobble. Reading from the standard Korean sporting script, he said afterwards:  “I concentrated on my last shot, but I scored eight. I was fortunate to win a gold medal and I will continue to do well.”

In the end, there weren’t a great many surprises. Most of the medals went to the usual powerhouse nations, with some strong runs from Malaysia and the Philippines – plus a special mention to the quarter-final performance of men’s recurver Pak Yong-Won of the DPRK. The athletes delivered. For the home nation, the KAA pressure cooker had done its job and delivered the expected medals in their most important tournament apart from the Olympics. It remains to be seen if the KAA will continue to develop and maintain a high-level compound squad, and if the men’s performances will match the women’s in either discipline. The Asian nations have proved spectacularly strong on the international archery circuit this year, and on this outing, that looks set to continue for a long time to come.

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Watch the Korea v India women’s team semifinal here. 

Thanks to the dozens of news sources in many languages that helped me pull together these reports. 

Archery at the Asian Games – Day 5 (compound finals)

27 September, 2014

Pic via indianexpress.com

Pic via indianexpress.com

INCHEON, Korea:  The Indian squad had an extraordinary day in windy conditions on the Gyegang field, as the men’s compound team capped a highly successful day for India by clinching a historic gold medal, beating favourites Korea 227-225. Rajat Chauhan, Sandeep Kumar and Abhishek Verma shot consistently in the middle from the second arrow on, in a closely-fought contest that saw the hosts’ second shooter Min Li-Hong send down a 7 in the 4th end to sink the Korean boat. Afterwards, Chauhan said: “We have been noticing India’s position on the medals table every day and were determined to win the gold today. We are delighted to have done it.”

The team’s extensive preparation for the Asiad appears to have paid off, according to coach Rajan Singh: “We went to Salt Lake City in the USA and trained with Dee Wilde (father of Reo) for 15 days. Then we came and trained in Korea in different weather conditions at Gwangju here for a month before reaching here for the Games.” said Singh, a former junior national champion.  Abhishek Verma said: “I knew how to perform under pressure… We are all delighted to win the gold. We were not overawed by our opponents.”  Iran beat the Phillippines for the bronze medal.

Watch some footage of the team gold medal victory here (featuring some very rueful Korean faces). 

Pic via Yonhap News

Pic via Yonhap News

In the women’s team contest, strong favourites Korea finally took a gold medal, beating Chinese Taipei 229-226. The women’s team had already broken the world record for a team 24-arrow match earlier in the week, and didn’t miss the gold once. India easily beat Iran for the bronze. Afterwards, Choi Bomin pointed to the sky to dedicate the victory to former KAA youth coach Shin Hyeon-Jong who had recently passed away.

In the women’s individual compound, India’s Trisha Deb couldn’t keep her strong run going against Seok Ji-Hyun, but lucked out to beat Huang I Jou in the bronze medal match. Deb was trailing from the first end, but the Chinese Taipei athlete unexpectedly missed with her penultimate arrow in the last end to hand her victory.  The gold medal match was contested between Koreans Seok Ji-Hyun and Choi Bomin, turning into a dramatic contest which saw the lead swinging back and forth with Choi shooting the last end clean to win by just a single point, 144-143.

The men’s contest saw some less familiar names in an international archery final without the usual European and American stars. Iran has long been strong in compound archery and Esmaeil Ebadi took the lead from the second end to beat India’s Abhishek Verma 145-141 in both athletes’ second appearances of the day. The match was a re-run of the first Asian Grand Prix final from this year, also won by Ebadi.  The bronze medal went to Paul Marton De La Cruz of the Phillippines.

Two gold medals for Korea means that the women’s recurve team and Oh Jin-Hyek will both have to take gold tomorrow in order for the host nation to meet its stated target of “four to six” golds from the eight available. But today belonged to a superb Indian squad with a well deserved gold, silver and two bronze medals from the first compound programme at these Games.

The competition continues with the recurve finals tomorrow.

Archery at the Asian Games – Day 4

26 September, 2014

Pic via Yonhap news.

Pic via Yonhap news.

 

INCHEON, Korea. Recurve eliminations day on a rain-soaked Gyegang Asiad Archery Field, and the host nation was shocked by the defeat of the mighty Korean men’s team, beaten by the Chinese by 5 set points to 4 in the semi-final. In windier conditions than previous days, the match went to a shoot-off, where the teams tied on 29 points but the Chinese won by being closest to the centre.

The Korean men have won every Asian Games team gold for the last eight editions of the Games going all the way back to 1982; now they must fight it out for bronze with Japan on Sunday, who unexpectedly lost their semi-final 5-1 to a resurgent Malaysia. Afterwards, Oh Jin-Hyek described the tournament as “harder than the Olympics”.

The KAA was quick to defend the team. The Korean women’s national team coach, Ryu Su-Jeong said:  “Korean archery is still winning, but is becoming more difficult.” Joo Hyun-Jung added, “Gold isn’t something to be taken for granted.” It appears that making the national team might be becoming something of a poisoned chalice; with the staggering achievements of the past and the sky-high expectations making any falls from grace that much harder.

 

In the women’s team event, Korea cruised through to the gold medal match, despite Joo Hyun-Jung having to pull out of the squad with a rotator cuff injury and being replaced by Lee Tuk-Young. They beat Kazakhstan before crushing India in the semifinal, and will face China in the final on Saturday. Despite the usual dominant display, the pressure is firmly on, as the Korean ladies have lost two finals in a row –  to Japan in the Asian Grand Prix and to the same Chinese team at the World Cup in Antalya in June this year.  A disappointed India will face Japan for the bronze.

There was slightly better news for the Koreans in the individual finals, although Lee Seungyun unexpectedly fell to Yong Zhiwei of China in the quarter-finals by a single point. Most matches went to form, setting up some intriguing clashes for Sunday. In the recurve men, Kuo Cheng Wei of Chinese Taipei will face Oh Jin-Hyek of Korea, with Yong Zhiwei of China facing Hideki Kukuchi of Japan in the other semi. In the recurve women, Jung Dasomi of Korea will face Ren Hayakawa of Japan, while Xu Jing of China will face Chang Hye-Jin.

Deepika Kumari was thrashed in her quarterfinal by Diananda Choirunisa of Indonesia, to face the wrath of the Indian media after a low-key performance for the Indian recurve team.

The competition continues with the compound finals tomorrow.

 

 

Archery at the Asian Games – Day 3

25 September, 2014

Photo via segye.com

 

INCHEON, Korea: The compound team and individual eliminations were completed today, in the debut outing of the discipline at the 17th Asian Games. The women’s team of Seok Ji-Hyun, Choi Bomin and Kim Yun-Jee scored 238 points out of a possible 240 in the team’s quarter-final victory over Laos to break the world record of 236 points set by the USA team in 2011.

They then eased past Iran 229-222 in the semifinals and will shoot against Chinese Taipei for the gold medal this Saturday, with Iran and India contesting the bronze.

In the men’s team competition, India will face off against Korea in the gold medal match. Korea only just squeezed past the Phillippines in the semi-final, who will face Iran for the bronze. Afterwards, Choi Yong Hee said: I’m glad to be in the final, but we haven’t won it yet. You have to do your best without losing concentration till the end if you want to win the gold.”

The strong performances from the Indian squad continued as Abhishek Verma upset favourite Choi Yong Hee of Korea 147-142 in the individual quarter-final, shooting 12 10s in the process. Trisha Deb will also contest the individual semi-finals on Saturday.

Elsewhere, there was disappointment for the Iraqi squad as big medal hope and World Cup silver medallist Fatimah Almashhadani went out to Sri Ranti of Indonesia in the 1/16 eliminations. Her sister Rand is shooting in the recurve eliminations tomorrow.

I wrote earlier this year pondering if the Korean team intended to dominate compound archery as they do recurve archery, and it seems to be coming to pass. Korea took all recurve golds available in the last two Asian Games, and have stated they hope to win between four to six golds here from the eight available in recurve and compound. Senior coach Jang Yung-Sool said, in typical Korean style, “All our archers are in good form, but I have advised the athletes to avoid excessive excitement because there are more events to prepare for.”

Full results can be found here. The shoot continues with the recurve team and individual eliminations tomorrow.

Brief YouTube news piece about the world record here.

Early-doors picture of the Gyeyang Asiad Archery Field via Fivics Korea:

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Archery at the Asian Games – Day 2

24 September, 2014

 

Jung Dasomi (pic by Yonhap News)

 

INCHEON, Korea: The Asian Games recurve ranking rounds were completed today. Both men and women shot a two-day full FITA round to decide the ranking – a decision of the KAA which contrasts with the now normal 70m ranking round in World Archery sanctioned international competition.

The full results are here. No particular surprises as to who came top – the Korean men’s team qualified one-two-three-four with Lee Suengyun taking top honours with 1377.  Oh Jin-Hyuk and Ku Bonchan were tied for second place with 1362 points, but the Olympic champion advanced on total tens scored (although he shot less X’s).  This means that Oh and Lee will contest the individual competition, as the rules only allow for two per country per gender; all three will contest the team competition. Kim Woojin shot 1353, good enough for fourth place but not good enough to make either the team or the individual knockout stage.

In the women’s competition, a Korean one-two-three means Jung Dasomi and Chang Hye-Jin will advance to the individual competition with scores of 1364 and 1359. It appears they will be joined in the team event by “elder sister” Joo Hyun-Yung, who only qualified 13th but squeezes Lee Tuk-Young out of the team event on previous results under the complicated KAA rules. Jung Dasomi was sanguine about the system in place, which sees at least one team member squeezed out for good. “The individual result doesn’t matter. Whoever goes out there to fight (as the team), we will give it everything.”

The main challengers to the Koreans for medals here are China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and India, who all recorded top ten placings. Indian superstar Deepika Kumari placed a strong 8th, but the rest of the Indian women’s recurve team floundered and the team only managed fifth place. Top Malaysian pro and World Cup medallist Khairul Anuar Mohamad managed a strong sixth place in the men’s competition.

The compound individual and team eliminations start tomorrow, just after midnight here in Europe.  There have already been controversies over the venue, but now there are further fears about the weather disrupting the competition, with Typhoon Fung-Wong battering parts of the east Asian coast and currently approaching south Korea. According to the organisers, the competition will go ahead unless “the target cannot be seen or the target is knocked over by wind and rain.” [waahh! – Ed]  Although Chang Hye-Jin was noticably bullish about the situation after the ranking round: “I hope the wind blows harder tomorrow.” she said.

Where is the Korean recurve team at #WC Shanghai?

23 April, 2014

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Answer: Shooting… in Korea. The picture above was put up by the Korean Archery Association on their Facebook page today, as the ranking round took place at the Yuanshen Stadium.

Many people have noticed the absence of a Korean recurve team at the current Shanghai World Cup stage (although the KAA has sent a compound squad).  It’s almost ‘our’ equivalent of Brazil or Germany deciding to skip the football World Cup. Meh, we’ll sit this one out. These are the facts: the dates of the Shanghai and Medellin stages were moved at the end of last year, and the KAA had already arranged for this week to be their selection shoot for the upcoming Asian Games. The above eight got picked today. Stick your money on them now. (There is compound archery in the Asian Games as well this year, but I guess they are picking that team some other time.)

The Korean team frequently skip one or more stages of the World Cup, presumably because they are sure they can get enough points for the grand final in two competitions. Apparently this year they will be in Medellin and Antalya, but not Wroclaw, because this year the Wroclaw date clashes with a national shoot in Korea. Clearly, they can’t be bothered with these tuppenny-hapenny international tournaments when there’s serious work to be done at home – and of course, the standard of competition is likely to be higher. It’s a wonderfully intransigent statement to the archery world. “You fit round us, we don’t fit round you.” But it’s also a shame for the archery audience, because it lessens the sporting spectacle when the biggest dog in the fight doesn’t show up.

I do like the exclamation-mark-riddled way Chrome has translated the KAA Facebook page below. Seems to sum the above up pretty well:

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 Thanks to fanio for pointing something out.