Pics from Tuesday & Wednesday’s call room – men’s recurve and compound. Many seeds falling, quite a lot of drama. It’s a different feel to the Olympic call room; lighter, calmer, a few more jokes – but as much at stake. Enjoy.
So I was really pleased that Chinese Taipei women got a medal. I’ve become a bit of a fanboy of their team. They seem to want it just as much as the Koreans, with just as much to prove. Their technique is spectacular, effortless.
The match of the day on women’s team Saturday was the Chinese Taipei v Mexico semi-final. 4-0 down, Aida Roman blew it with the last arrow due to time issues, and Taipei pulled out an absolutely blistering, confident comeback. No match after that on Sunday was better – and some were downright terrible.
The ladies in blue never really mounted enough of a challenge against Korea in the semi. You could feel there wasn’t enough under the hood. If they’d qualified second, hammered their bracket and met them in the final maybe the story would have been different – even just a little bit.
In the interminable press conference afterwards the Korean women were keen to listen to what Taipei had to say and shot them respectful glances, reminding me of how the USA men bowed to the men in white after the final on Saturday. I really enjoy the respect shown at the very highest level.
Russia lucked their way through some inconsistent opponents to get to the last match, but the way they were shooting, you knew they were going home with silver. Unlike Saturday’s top seed action, this was a coronation of the Korean women. Although some questions remain; individually, there are just a few chinks of light in the armour. I can’t see a clean white sweep of the podium.
I’m writing this on Day 3. I just walked past Kim Woojin, tanked by serial giant killer Ega Agatha Riau in the day’s biggest news story. He was laughing, although someone said they saw him crying too. I was in the OBS pen when Aida Roman broke down in tears, on camera, after her first round loss to Alexandra Mirca. It was agonising to be there, nearly set me off too when transcribed the tape.
I was willing on Ane Marcelle Dos Santos, as was everybody else in the stadium. The best ever Olympic result for a Brazilian archer. Pandemonium. Mobbed by the crowd afterwards. She’s awesome.
Anyway, enjoy some backstage pics from today and yesterday. Keep following along wherever you are. I’m still hoping this Games is remembered for all the right reasons. – John.
The day belonged to Ku Bonchan, Lee Seungyun, and Kim Woojin. It didn’t belong to ‘Korea’, that archery monolith. It belonged to those three guys who looked like what they were; a team. Distinct personalities, distinct styles – but indisputably a team, and delivering the most sublime, confident high-level target shooting the world has ever seen. Literally on another level.
The USA were great, on point, delivering the goods, and just as close. They bowed to the Korean lads afterwards. That was nice. Australia punched up.
There was samba dancing. On the field. A lot of it. TONS of it.
A lot of today’s pics are mostly about athletes in that weird limbo period in between doing the deep magic. The waiting. Who knows, tomorrow’s pics might be too.
The Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí was built in 1984, as a parade ground for the samba schools in the annual Rio Carnival; there are now ‘Sambadromes’ in several other Brazilian cities. Nearly a kilometre long, it was made by converting an existing street and adding bleachers along its length. One end is a large square, where the parades finish; this is now the ranking round and practice range. Immediately next to that is the finals field, where the magic will happen. This is walled off at two ends and much more enclosed than previous Olympic archery venues. A little theatre. I think it’s going to be noisy.
Unlike all the other Olympic venues in Rio, it’s resolutely urban, stuck in the middle of a working-class neighbourhood called Cidade Nova, currently crawling with police. Bounded to the north by an eight-lane highway, another long freeway runs right down one side, only about twenty yards from our press tent. All around are unclosed roads.
Past the arch, to the south, lie three large favelas, the oldest being Morro da Mineira. It’s an oddity that in most places in the world, the rich live up the top of the hill, with housing getting grander the higher you go. In many (but not all) parts of Rio it’s exactly the opposite.
It’s the only Olympic venue where you can see Rio’s most famous icon, the statue of Christ The Redeemer built in the 1930s, merely by looking up from the range – which should give succour to the several Catholics with a shot at an archery medal.
It’s difficult to say it’s a pretty place. It’s designed to come alive with colour and people and music; a neutral space. It’s a vast, monumentally brutal bit of concrete surrounded by more crumbling concrete, and much of it is in dire need of a paint job. When you hear it was made by Brazil’s most famous architect, Oscar Niemeyer, at first I thought, well, everyone has a bad day at the office.
Niemeyer is famous for many great buildings in Brazil, and one of his last in the 1990s was one of his most lauded, the MAC Contemporary Art Gallery in Niterói, a short ferry ride across the bay from central Rio. I went there last week:
I absolutely loved this landed-UFO-cum-Bond-villain-lair showing off on a short spit of land overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain, although it’s almost too outré for it’s own good. No-one visiting seemed bothered about the rather confusing exhibition currently on display. They’d come to see IT, not what was in it.
Niemeyer, who died in 2012, was famous for his curves – rather like another late Olympic architect, Zaha Hadid, who designed the aquatics centre for London. His most famous quote on the subject goes like this:
I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire Universe, the curved Universe of Einstein.
Which seems a bit at odds with the squared off, boxy concrete lines I’m currently spending all day, every day in. But once I started nosing around the Sambodromo, I finally started seeing a little of the architect’s vision; the detailing, the shaping and yep, the curves.
I think it’ll be a memorable outing – and I hope for all the right reasons. Our thing, our little corner, has the potential to be something very special, if the weather holds out and the soft winter sunshine makes the concrete glow.
I’m glad it’s here, in this defiantly real part of town, and not in some gleaming new arena that’s going to be broken up in a few weeks. It’s a spot with a bit of soul. Let’s watch what happens together.
The Sambodromo is finally open for training, and the first athletes and teams arrived today: Brazil, India, Malaysia and a lone archer from Belarus; Anton Prilepov. Especially good to see the home nation out there, looking comfortable and relaxed in the late afternoon sun. (Sunset is at 1730 here).
(It won’t be that exposed wood behind the targets for ranking or finals, a backdrop is going in this week. There’s a few little details still to go).
More tomorrow. Stay tuned.