Jang Minhee battles to world champion title in Yankton

Jang Minhee

Korean archer Jang Minhee beat Casey Kaufhold of the USA in straight sets to claim her first individual gold medal and the world title at the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships in Yankton.

“This is my first world championships and also my last event as a Korean national team member for this season. For the last game, I won. I’m really happy. I really enjoyed it,” said Minhee.

The 22-year-old suffered on the path to the final.

After seeding third, she survived a shoot-off in her first match against Lidiia Sichenikova – and then, in the arena, another against Lisa Barbelin.

Alejandra Valencia was millimetres from stealing the win in the semis, several of her arrows landing just outside the 10-ring.

But Jang held strong – and won it, even with an eight to finish.

She spoke about her timing after the session, saying she struggled to maintain pace under the pressure of the arena.

The final was Minhee’s easiest match of the day.

She outclassed Kaufhold, who had clearly expended everything in an upset of Olympic Champion and favourite An San in the semis, with three sets of 29, 28 and 29 points.

“At first, I was really nervous, but I tried to focus on the way I’m pulling. Finally, the gold medal, I got one. I’m so happy right now,” said the winner.

This is Minhee’s first season on the Korean top team.

She won the Olympic team title in Tokyo and in Yankton, at her first world championships, has both team and individual gold.

Casey Kaufhold’s silver is the first individual podium for a USA recurve woman at the world championships since Denise Parker in 1989. At 17-year-old of age, it’s a phenomenal achievement.

“Gold would’ve been great but I think, throughout, I kept composure and I had a good performance. To win a medal on home soil is just great,” she said.

Kaufhold’s mother was in the stands to watch.

Olympic Champion An San beat Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia to bronze. The pair was tied after four sets – and the top seed finished with a perfect 30-point set to break the deadlock.

“It’s really meaningful for me, no matter what colour of medal it is,” said An San. “When I came here my first aim was the team medal, that’s why I’m really satisfied with the result here.”

It is the first time since 2015 that two Korean recurve women have climbed the world podium.

Jang Minhee is the 11th archer from Korea to win this title.