China sweeps takes two poles as squad returns to World Cup after four years

China returns to international competition at Antalya 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup.

China’s archers haven’t missed a beat.

The squad took top seeds in the recurve women’s team and mixed team events at the first stage of the 2023 Hyundai Archery World Cup, an impressive way to mark the Chinese return to the international circuit after four years of absence.

The pandemic caused the cancellation of the international season in 2020 – and the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics into 2021. China’s archers appeared there, having qualified two years prior, but the team didn’t travel to any other international events.

Without international results, all Chinese athletes dropped out of the Sanlida World Archery Ranking.

That’s the case no longer. The tour’s going back to Shanghai, next month, and the Chinese team is back – and back performing.

“I’m very excited,” said Wang Dapeng, who was one of the team at the last Olympics.

“We’re participating in a big competition again after a long time. We feel fresh and excited,” added Wei Shaoxuan.

An Qixuan had a great season back in 2019. She finished fourth in the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final – one year after finishing runner-up in her debut stage of the circuit, on home soil in Shanghai, in 2018.

She was also seventh here in Antalya when China last competed.

“It’s great to be back in competition,” she said.

One of the sport’s leading nations in the World Cup-era, China’s absence has left a gap in the results, willingly filled by alternative attendees. But with two top seeds in Antalya, and second in the recurve men’s team event, the nation looks likely to return to the podium.

Led by the pairing of Li Zhongyuan (679) and Zhang Mengyao (671), who qualified third in their respective individual categories and will shoot together in mixed team matchplay on Friday, the Chinese teams enter Thursday morning’s eliminations largely as favourites.

“It’s great to see many old, good friends from foreign countries,” said Wang. “But I believe I can do well here. We will do our best.”

China’s return to the Hyundai Archery World Cup medal table seems imminent.