Enjoyment key to Korea’s Olympic clean sweep

At Rio 2016, Korea’s dominant archery team took gold in the men’s individual, women’s individual, women’s team and men’s team events – and secured the first four-win clean sweep in the sport’s Olympic history.

Moon Hyung Cheol was the head coach in charge. (He’s on the right in the header photo.)

Every two years, the Korean Archery Association advertises the job. Moon Hyung Cheol was appointed at the end of 2014, for the period in the lead-up and through the Olympics in Brazil.

With his arrival came a key message: “Enjoy training.”

“That’s what I always emphasise to archers and the thing I wanted to change from the previous team,” he said. “Training was also focused on basic technique, as well as the mental aspects, to make the archers more concetrated when they shot.”

It sounds simple – but the difference in Korea’s squad has been noticeable in recent years.

Gone is the perceived machine-like approach of the 1990s and early 2000s, personified by Kim Soo-Nyung and Park Sung-Hyun’s dominance of the female competition through those periods. It’s replaced by characters like new Olympic Champion Ku Bonchan, who takes any opportunity to play the joker, and a team that will happily leap in the air when asked to by a photographer.

It just goes to show, at whatever level in this sport, enjoyment is still the key ingredient. Although there’s no doubt that talent, hard work and shared determination to succeed drove this iteration of the Korean team to its historic feat in Rio, too.

As for Moon Hyung Cheol, the first head coach to lead his team to four golds at the same Olympics?

“I am now back with my team, Yecheon,” he said. “My goal is to train more junior archers and lead them to the Korean national team, until I retire.”

The full Korean coaching staff in Rio was Moon Hyun Cheol (head coach), Park Chaesoon (men’s team coach), Yang Changhoon (women’s team coach), Park Sang Soon, Park Cheolwan, Han Seunghoon, Choi Seungsil, Cha Young Chul.