Experts predict: the Rio 2016 Olympic archery champions

The Rio 2016 Olympic archery competition starts on 5 August with the ranking round.

On 6 August, the men’s team gold medal will be decided, with the women’s following on 7 August. Individual eliminations play out on 8-10 August, then the women’s finals take place on 11 August and men’s on 12 August.

Here’s who our panel of experts think will be walking away with Olympic Champion titles from Rio 2016…

John Stanley
Journalist and blogger

Picks: Ku Bonchan, Korea  – men; Tan Ya-Ting, Chinese Taipei  – women; USA  – men’s team; Korea  – women’s team

Top scores: 701 (WR) – men; 684 – women

“Chinese Taipei is one of the few squads that has what it takes to rattle the Koreans, and Tan Ya-Ting is the stand-out star. She beat Ki Bo Bae and Chang Hye Jin in Antalya this year,” said John.

“Choi Misun is still the strong favourite, but I reckon Tan Ya-Ting could easily make the podium and even win it.”

He also said that Ku Bonchan had the most “ferocious spirit”, the USA men seem to be peaking at the right time – and that the biggest surprise in Rio could be hosts Brazil.

“They have some excellent shooters, the crowd behind them and will be unfazed by the possibly tricky conditions in the Sambodromo. If they qualify solidly, I hope they manage to get stuck in and go deep,” he explained.

Juan-Rene Serrano
3-time Olympian / Mexico 

Picks: Kim Woojin, Korea  – men; Aida Roman, Mexico  – women; Korea  – men’s team; Korea  – women’s team

Top scores: 695 – men; 686 – women

Serrano, who finished fourth in Beijing in 2008, said Kim Woojin’s confident in the set game was an asset:

“His performance in the World Championships last year was one of the best of the season.”

He backed Mexican teammate Aida Roman, who took silver in London, to go the distance in Rio off the back of excellent preparation and her strength in high-stress situations.

The Korean women’s team, Serrano revealed, use “team mechanics” to reduce risk during matchplay – and he picked out David Pasqualucci as the one to watch.

“He is one underrated archer,” he said. “With a bit of good luck and a good day he can become the new Olympic Champion.”

Natalia Valeeva
6-time Olympian / Italy

Picks: Brady Ellison, USA  – men; Deepika Kumari, India  – women; USA  – men’s team; Korea  – women’s team

Other men in the running would be Miguel Alvarino Garcia and Kao Hao-Wen, said Valeeva – while the women should look out for Aida Roman, Alejandra Valencia and Koreans Choi Misun and Chang Hye Jin.

The biggest surprise, she added, would come via Sjef van den Berg.

“He’s young… and very tenacious,” Natalia said.

George Tekmitchov

Picks: Kim Woojin, Korea  – men; Choi Misun, Korea  – women; Korea  – men’s team; Korea  – women’s team

Top scores: 700+ (WR) – men; 695+ (WR) – women

George expects both world records to fall in Rio – if the weather holds – and it’ll be Brady Ellison that sets the new men’s mark, with a Korean upping the women’s.

Those women, he said, are “invincible”.

“Choi Misun has been gaining experience and proved her ability in Copenhagen. Going to her first Games gives her a statistical and real advantage,” he explained.

“Ki Bo Bae has the added pressure of being the reigning and defending Champion, while Choi has the mental game to get it done.”

Sara Lopez
World #1 compound archer / Colombia

Picks: Sjef van den Berg, Netherlands  – men; Ki Bo Bae, Korea  – women; USA  – men’s team; Korea  – women’s team

Top scores: 695 – men; 680 – women

Sjef, said world number one compounder Sara, has been shooting better and better at each tournament in the months leading up to the Games.

“He is so mentally strong – and that’s the most important thing for winning,” she added. If anyone knows about that – it’s Sara.

Of Ki Bo Bae, she said the Korean winner in London was a “legend”, who shoots with an “incredible” style and looks “so calm and confident in every shot”.

The 2015 Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion, Miguel Alvarino Garcia, would be the tournament’s biggest surprise in the men’s competition, said Sara – while both Mackenzie Brown and Ana Maria Rendon have a shot in the women’s.

Andrea Vasquez

Picks: Ku Bonchan, Korea  – men; Choi Misun, Korea  – women; USA  – men’s team; Korea  – women’s team

Top scores: 701 (WR) – men; 689 (WR) – women

A Korean clean-sweep and two world records falling?

“Choi Misun won every Hyundai Archery World Cup event she competed at in 2016 – that’s six gold medals,” said Andrea.

“And although I reckon Kim Woojin will beat the ranking round world record, Ku seems more confident when it comes to managing the pressure. He’s fearless.”

She expects Brady and Sjef to give him a big battle, though.

Carl Arky
TV Commentator

Picks: Lee Seungyun, Korea  – men; Tan Ya-Ting, Chinese Taipei  – women; Korea  – men’s team; Korea  – women’s team

“A cool customer,” Carl said of Lee Seungyun, the 2013 World Archery Champion. “Not phased or intimidated by the setting or his opponent.”

Tan Ya-Ting or Chinese Taipei teammate Le Chien-Ying have the tools to upset the Korean women, Carl added, as neither has the same pressure and both have proven themselves capable of competing against and with the best in the world.

In the team events, though, Carl sees no such upset on the horizon.

“Korea has too much talent, depth, experience and mental fortitude for other teams to overcome,” he explained.

Dean Alberga

Picks: Lee Seungyun, Korea  – men; Choi Misun, Korea  – women; Korea  – men’s team; Korea  – women’s team

The man that’s arguably closest to the action, even from behind the lens, said he’s seen Sjef train – “and wow” – knows Brady’s confidence and sees Kim and Ku as men’s contenders, but picks Lee Seungyun above them all.

Choi Misun, said Dean, “demonstrates archery as it should be – seemingly effortless and highly accurate.”

The archery competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games starts on the 5 August in the Sambodromo.