So, the archery test event for Rio 2016 happened at the Sambódromo – although they didn’t test the TV cameras and there wasn’t a shred of footage, much to the disappointment of archery fans around the world. It’s notable how much international standards had increased since the last test event in London in 2011. In that qualification round, in the men’s competition if you shot 650 you placed 34th – in Rio, you’d only be 42nd. In the women’s competition: 650 would have got you 2nd place in London – in Rio only 18th. It’s remarkable how many nations have produced elite level archers in just four years.
There was controversy early on with a scorecard incident involving none other than Olympic champion Oh Jin-Hyek, who apparently forgot to total the second half of his qualification scoresheet during the ranking round. Despite an aghast appeal from the Koreans, he was dropped to last place and also took the men’s team – who must have been at least even money to win here – out of the competition. This was just one of several high profile incidents this year involving scorecard mistakes, including a disaster for the USA men’s team in Copenhagen. It’s not ‘fair’, no, but the rules are not a secret – everyone knows them and everyone knows the consequences. It seems unlikely that a movement to change the scorecard-last rule is going to appear anytime soon, at least before completely foolproof universal electronic scoring appears sometime in the distant future.
None of the big Asian archery nations disappointed. The Korean men may have been gone, but the women’s team – despite apparently finding it difficult to get used to the food – scythed through the field and took gold without losing a single set point. In hot conditions, China were almost as dominant on the men’s side, and Chinese Taipei continued their podium-level runs in all competitions. Choi Misun took individual women’s gold, and world champion Kim Woojin took the men’s title, holding off a spectacular silver medal run from Sjef Van Den Berg, capping an extraordinary season for the Dutchman that saw him nearly destroy an entire field at the European Games. The big shoulders of Marcus D’Almeida may need further reinforcing over the next year after he finished a creditable ninth, there was another strong showing from Mackenzie Brown keeping USA hopes up for next year, and the Canadian men surprised.
Most athletes seemed to praise the sea-of-green setup in Rio, although the temperatures seemed to trouble a few. In under a year, the ‘big dance’ beckons.