Medellin finals preview: Recurve Sunday

The Medellin stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit will say goodbye with something of a crescendo. On recurve Sunday at the last stage held in the city – before it moves to Salt Lake City, USA in 2017 – defending circuit champions Miguel Alvarino Garcia and Choi Misun take to the field to contest their first finals of the shortened season.

With only three stages in 2016 rather than the usual four, due to a shortened calendar to make space for the Olympics, every point counts in the rankings, especially for athletes looking to defend recently-won titles on the tour.

Here are our picks on recurve Sunday at Medellin 2016…

Recurve men’s individual gold final (PM session): MIGUEL ALVARINO GARCIA  / BRADY ELLISON 

The USA’s Brady Ellison is the only person to win the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final three times. He’s the most decorated individual recurve archer on the circuit, and he’s fresh off his best qualifying performance in history at stage one in Shanghai.

It would be absolutely no surprise if Brady takes gold in Medellin, his first final since winning Lausanne in 2014.

But Miguel, who won the European Games and Archery World Cup Final in 2015, inheriting the latter title from Ellison, is a dark horse. He shows up big in some tournaments, fades into the background in others.

In Medellin so far, it’s been the impressive Alvarino Garcia on the shooting line, recording big wins over top seed Kim Woojin and Japan’s Hideki Kikuchi. Brady, who put on his very own impressive show in a semifinal shoot-off victory over Ku Bonchan, represents Miguel’s biggest challenge in the tournament…

…something says, at this event, he’s up to it.

Advantage: Alvarino Garcia

Recurve women’s individual gold final (PM session): CHOI MISUN  / WU JIAXIN 

Reigning Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion Choi Misun burst onto the scene in her debut season, 2015, with three podiums throughout the year, including that gold at the final in Mexico City. She also came third at the World Archery Championships and has, all round, been one of the most dependable of the Korean women since she joined the team.

Seeded first in Medellin, she faces a junior world silver medallist in Wu Jiaxin who has not walked into a senior finals arena alone before.

Wu passed by two shoot-offs in a host of close matches, including a victory over Olympic Champion and Choi’s Korean teammate Ki Bo Bae to make the gold medal match.

This match, though, probably won’t go to a tiebreaker…

Advantage: Choi

Recurve men’s individual bronze final (PM session): HIDEKI KIKUCHI  / KU BONCHAN 

Aside fact on Ku Bonchan. He was notified that his technique might not be legal under high-draw rules in mid-2015. The next tournament, he arrived with a very legal draw – and was just as good, if not better, than before.

This man might look unphasable – if it was not for his shoot-off loss to Brady Ellison in Medellin. He shot an iffy eight to miss out on a gold medal match berth, after launching a huge comeback to level the match when he trailed 5-1.

Shanghai 2014 stage winner Hideki, who’s only appeared twice for Japan since then, has only that individual medal on his record at the world level. He’ll have to work hard to add another.

Advantage: Ku

Recurve women’s individual bronze final (PM session): TAN YA-TING  / GUENDALINA SARTORI 

Runner-up at Shanghai 2016, Tan Ya-Ting is a lock for the finals however she places in this match – plus she seeded top in Medellin. But 16-ranked Sartori has to be the hot hand. She won convincing matches before a 6-0 loss to Choi Misun in the semis.

A bounce-back match for a surging Italian athlete in Medellin.

Advantage: Sartori

Recurve mixed team gold final (AM session): Korea  / Japan 

After dropping two set points to Guatemala in the first round – good effort from the Americas athletes, there – Choi Misun and Kim Woojin remained clean through the rest of the brackets.

Japan seeded sixth and the pair clawed their way through the phases and past number-two ranked Chinese Taipei in the semis. In actual fact, the Japanese mixed team was more consistent than Korea in set scores, but the Koreans weren’t really tested.

Advantage: Korea

Recurve men’s team gold final (AM session): Korea  / Mexico 

On paper, Korea is the better team. Only three set points dropped in three matches in the eliminations and an average arrow of over 9.4, compared to Mexico’s 9.2.

But Mexico showed resiliency in the quarterfinals in a shoot-off win over the States.

Mexico, too, has something to prove. Korea is sitting pretty on a full team quota place to the Rio 2016 Olympics and doesn’t need to peak until it arrives at the Games. Mexico, meanwhile, qualified a first men’s place at the continental quota tournament prior to the Hyundai Archery World Cup stage starting in Medellin and needs to up its game to increase to a team invitation at the third leg in Antalya.

Advantage: Mexico

Recurve women’s team gold final (AM session): Korea  / China 

An Olympic preview? Or rewind? Korea and China have contested the recurve women’s team crown at each of the last three editions of the Games. Of course, China’s come away worse off each time – as Korea has won every single gold available in the women’s team competition since it was introduced in 1988.

This is the Korean squad that will go for an eighth consecutive title at Rio 2016. Individual Olympic Champion Ki Bo Bae, Choi Misun and Chang Hye Jin are undoubtedly the favourites in this match-up.

Advantage: Korea