Olympic Champion rallies to lead qualifying at world championships

An San shoots at the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships.

Olympic Champion An San and Kim Woojin finished top of qualifying as Korea swept the top seeds in the recurve events at the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships in Yankton.

After the first 36 arrows, An San wallowed in 13th.

She shot a recurve women’s field-leading 331 for the back half to finish with 646 points in total, overtaking Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia for the top spot with six arrows left to go in the 72-arrow round.

“I needed to get some time to get familiar with the environment here, but it's getting better and better. I’m happy with that,” said the 20-year-old.

“I needed to find out the direction of the wind, and it was quite tricky for me. During the break, I thought about the wind and the situation on the field and tried to make it work.”

Her result is the lowest score shot by a top recurve women’s seed at the worlds (by 21 points) since the format was introduced in 2015, which gives some indication of the challenge that archers faced.

Valencia held on for second, two points behind An on 644. Korea’s Jang Minhee and Kang Chae Young took third and fourth, respectively. 

Casey Kaufhold on home soil, European Champion Lisa Barbelin, Olympic runner-up Elena Osipova and former Olympic silver medallist Aida Roman rounded out the top eight.

Kim Woojin already has two World Archery Champion titles to his name – the first won a decade ago in Turin.

Today’s 677 isn’t the biggest score of his career. But given the conditions, it might be one of his most impressive. Woojin finished seven ahead of Brazil’s Marcus D’Almeida, who shot 670 points.

“The environment wasn’t perfect, but I managed my circumstances the best I could and focused on my timing, which I thought was the best approach for today,” said Kim, referring to the rhythm of his sequence.

“There’s an opportunity for every athlete, for every archer here, to win the title. But I have a chance.”

Reigning World Archery Champion Brady Ellison recovered from 21st at halfway to third by the end of the round.

Wei Chun-Heng, the silver medallist at the worlds in 2017, was fourth. Miguel Alvarino, Korean duo Kim Je Deok and Oh Jin Hyek, and Thomas Chirault will also receive byes into the third round.

Mongolia’s Dashnamjil Dorjsuren put in an eye-opening performance, shooting 652 points – the ninth-best on the range.

There’s a long way to go in this competition.

But after today’s performance, Kim looks in fine form, with a fine chance at securing a third-career world crown here in Yankton. If he does, he won't be the first. (Most recently, the USA’s Rick McKinney won the event in 1977, 1983 and 1985.) He would, however, become the first Korean archer to win three world titles.

If An San converts her top seed into the top spot on the podium, she would become the first archer in history to win Olympic gold and world gold in the same year.

(No Olympic archery competition has ever been held in the same year as the championships before.)

Korea won all three team titles at the Games in Tokyo and has all three top team seeds here in Yankton. An San, who won three Olympic golds herself, was the superstar of the squad – and there will be domestic expectations for a repeat on this stage.

“This is my first world championships," she said. "I’m trying to enjoy, rather than getting pressured.” 

Competition continues at the world championships with team eliminations on Wednesday.

Top seeds: Recurve men

  1. Kim Woojin, Korea – 677
  2. Marcus D’Almeida, Brazil – 670
  3. Brady Ellison, USA – 659
  4. Wei Chun-Heng, Chinese Taipei – 656
  5. Miguel Alvarina, Spain – 655
  6. Kim Je Deok, Korea – 653 (28 10s)
  7. Oh Jin Hyek, Korea – 653 (23 10s)
  8. Thomas Chirault, France – 653 (22 10s)

Top seeds: Recurve women

  1. An San, Korea – 646
  2. Alejandra Valencia, Mexico – 644
  3. Jang Minhee, Korea – 642
  4. Kang Chae Young, Korea – 640
  5. Casey Kaufhold, USA – 639
  6. Lisa Barbelin, France – 638
  7. Elena Osipova, RAF – 636
  8. Aida Roman, Mexico – 635