Ki Bo Bae into shot at elusive world title

With reigning champion Maja Jager out in the second round yesterday, the recurve women’s field was open for new faces to show up at Copenhagen 2015 World Championships. Top seeded recurve women came into face-to-face contention today, as the top eight of each division had a direct pass into third round.

The first matches of the day – the third round – were fatal for three top seeded athletes, China’s Zhu Jueman (4), Chinese Taipei’s Tan Ya-Ting (7) and India's Deepika Kumari (8). All three Koreans were still in the race into fourth round but in the same half of the bracket.

The round also decided five individual quota spots for Rio 2016 for Chinese Taipei, Germany, Indonesia, Ukraine and USA, each having one athlete entering the fourth round.

“I’m proud because I didn’t have a good start at this championships,” said Germany’s Lisa Unruh. “My qualification was bad but I did much better in elimination, made the top 16 and then beat the Australian girl [Semra Lingard] 6-0. I’m happy for the place at the Olympics.”

At this point six athletes remain from six different countries – Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Italy and Poland – for three places at stake that will be decided in a special tournament on Friday.

The first biggest upset of the day was third seed from Korea, Kang Chae Young, losing to 14-ranked Veronika Marchenko, 6-4. The 22-year old Ukrainian prevented an all Korean quarterfinal with sixth seed Choi Misun. Two Koreans in a row was too high a challenge and Marchenko’s run ended there.

The quarters featured two Korean athletes – Choi and Olympic champion Ki Bo Bae – and two Mexicans – Alejandra Valencia and Olympic silver medallist Aida Roman. As each country was present on one side of the match table, it could have led to an all Mexican and an all Korean semis.

It wouldn’t be the case, though, as Roman found too strong an opposition in the person of top seed Lin Shih-Chia, from Chinese Taipei. Defeat in four sets, 6-2.

Seeded fifth, Valencia was pushed to shoot-off by Laxmirani Majhi, ranked 52nd only, that she lost 9-8. The Indian shot her tiebreak arrow with only two seconds left on the clock…

No Mexican in the semifinals, but two Koreans still in on the lower side of the bracket! Choi was to face teammate Ki for a go at gold on Sunday. The Olympic champion needed five sets to overcome experienced veteran Khatuna Narimanidze of Georgia, 6-4 in quarterfinal.

The semifinal matches were fiercely contested.

Olympic champion Ki and 19-year old teammate Choi scored two perfect sets each and one draw for a tied score 5-5. The match was loaded as the pair met twice just previously to the worlds: Ki beat Choi to gold at the Universiade and Choi beat Ki to gold at Antalya 2015. 

In the shoot-off both Koreans had a 9 – in quite similar a position in the target – but Ki’s was slightly better for victory.

In the second semifinal Lin and Majhi drew in the first two sets, the 22-year old girl from Chinese Taipei won the third, and they tied again in the fourth. At 5-3 Lin scored three 9s. Starting the last set with 10-9 the Indian could have taken the match to a shoot-off with a final 9 or better.

“I was confident when I shot my last arrow and was surprised that it landed just out of the gold,” Laxmirani explained. Eight it was indeed, the set and the match going to Lin’s hands!

Sunday’s gold medal match will feature first and second seeded recurve women, Lin Shih-Chia and Ki Bo Bae. After her semifinal Lin admitted she was feeling very nervous, “because I really wanted to win, win, win!”

“I’m very happy to shoot in the gold medal match because it’s the first time I compete in such a big international event. I’m happy to shoot against Ki Bo Bae, I’m confident to win the game,” the 22-year-old added.

The individual recurve women’s bronze medal will be contested by Choi Misun and Laxmirani Majhi.