Best of 2016: The coaches of the year

It’s been quite a year for coaches, occasionally the unsung heroes of archery. Having a great Olympic cycle can make or break a coaching career, and the athletes weren’t the only nervous people out there on the shooting stage in Brazil.

The year also saw the opening of the World Archery Excellence Centre in Lausanne, which has a strong focus on spreading excellence in coaching throughout the world.

(Disclaimer: the official coach of the year trophy is awarded by an expert panel that votes ahead of the World Archery Gala in February. This is a non-official and subjective list.)

1. Moon Hyung Cheol

The head coach in charge of the Korean Olympic archery team, Moon (pictured right, next to Park Chae-Soon on the left) was the man who oversaw the historic clean sweep of all four gold medals at Rio 2016. Even in the lengthy list of Olympic archery achievements for South Korea over the last few years, this stands out as a crowning glory.

For a country that concentrates its attentions on just a handful of Olympic sports, the crushing national pressure to maintain the golden standard grows greater every cycle – but Moon had the shoulders to bear the weight of public expectation, and delivered another triumph. 

A man with a dominant style, he enforced a team-based approach that ensured co-operation among the athletes. However, unlike some of his predecessors, he was keener on allowing individual personalities to shine through and the teams to relax a little more.

“Enjoy training,” he said in October. “That’s what I always emphasise to archers and the thing I wanted to change from the previous team.”  

The Korea Archery Association appoints a head coach every two years, to alternately build towards their two biggest events: the Olympics and the Asian Games. Hyung Cheol has already stated that he is going to focus on training junior archers and will not sign up for another go around.

Whoever will replace him for Tokyo will have a monumental task ahead of them.  

2. Michael Peart

Peart was the head coach for Archery GB’s Paralympic effort. He took home an unprecedented six medals from the Sambodromo including a clean sweep of the podium in the women’s W1 event - the first time Great Britain has managed such a feat for 20 years.

A man who came agonisingly close to making the Olympic recurve team for London 2012 – he placed fourth in the trials – Mike took over the job in 2013 and constructed a programme with one aim in mind; building a team that could win medals in Rio.

“For me, the best part of coaching is seeing people achieve their dreams in competition,” he said in Rio. “That is truly what gets me going.” 

3. PARK “SALLY” Young-Sook

An international archer, coach and judge for decades, Sally built an Olympic pathway from scratch in Malawi and took a single athlete, Areneo David, to the Olympic Games, moulding him into an international standard archer in incredibly short time and overcoming extraordinary difficulties to do so in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Few coaches on the line have brought such a relentless energy to their work. 

Honourable mentions

Evandro de Azevedo: The Brazilian head coach built a fine team to perform on home soil – in front of notoriously brutal spectators – with limited resources and endless energy, and took Ane Marcelle Dos Santos to the last 16. 

Richard Priestman: Parachuted in to the senior Olympic coach role in Great Britain at the end of 2015, Richard managed to secure two qualification spots and a respectable performance from both archers, as well as Britain’s first Hyundai Archery World Cup stage medal match appearance for years. 

Park Chae-Soon: The starry Korean men’s team coach, as well as Ki Bo Bae’s individual coach, Park’s expertise and no-nonsense, highly-vocal style were a familiar sight at the tail end of top events over the last four years, capped by an extraordinary tally of bling in Brazil.

Scaling back his top tier international duties, he – and his incredible screams of support – will be much missed from the line.

Martin Frederick: The man behind the youngest athlete at the Olympics, Ricardo Soto, who finished ninth overall, making the last 16 of the competition in his debut at the world’s biggest sporting event. Originally European, Martin’s guard in Rio might have been the under-the-radar performance of the Games.

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