Expert opinions and predictions ahead of the second stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup
After the first stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup completed in Antalya, Turkey last month, the focus on the circuit turned to Gwangju, Korea for stage two, which gets underway next week.
As all four current world number ones prepare to touchdown in Asia to compete for a direct ticket to the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in October, we spoke to the following panel of experts for their thoughts:
1. Who impressed you in Antalya and why?
Lisa: I was impressed by Laura van der Winkel because she is still very young. She did a really great job and it was nice to watch her. She started with a good fifth place in qualification and continued with solid match rounds. As I watched her, she looked very confident. I liked her shooting routine because her shots came fast and controlled, she didn’t have any long holds and almost every shot looked good.
Sjef: I was really impressed by Ryan Tyack, he has been shooting internationally for a very long time and I enjoyed seeing him up in the top four again. He seemed quite comfortable on the stage, too.
John: There were lots of people who impressed in Antalya; the Netherlands, the British and German recurve women, Gabrielle Sasai, who seemed to take the stage like she wanted to be there, and the Ukraine team, for whom just making it there and competing was a victory. But the competition belonged to Ella Gibson, who hit the kind of level she has been threatening to hit for months. I really hope she can maintain that for the rest of this year.
Dean: Miguel Alvarino. He didn’t make it to Tokyo last year even though he was probably Spain’s best bet for a high-ranked finish and a possible medal. It was not quite the same but he proved a point in Antalya and secured his spot for the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Mexico where he won the last time the finals were there. I would also like to give an honourable mention to Jean Pizarro. What a tournament the Puerto Rican had.
Vanessa: The Ukraine archery team impressed me the most in Antalya. With everything going on at home, it was great to see the men's team finishing fourth and several of their archers making it through the elimination brackets.
2. Who has work to do after Antalya and why?
Lisa: I am sure every archer still has a lot of work to do because the work never ends. This was the first stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup and the first big international competition this year. That means you have to check if your practice is working and what you can improve because there is always something to improve. Last year, I worked a lot on my self-confidence and my mental game because after my surgery I did not feel the way I usually feel.
Sjef: Anders Faugstad will have some work to do although I always find this a loaded question. He will obviously realise that it hasn’t been his most impressive performance and for sure knows better what to do next than I do. He has loads of talent and potential and I hope he will be able to show it again soon.
John: Chinese Taipei didn't really show the dominance they will need to show to challenge Korea for the big medals this year, although it was the first tournament and the men appear to be in excellent shape.
Dean: I guess many have work to do. Sara Lopez didn't shoot bad but did not look as confident during the matches as she always does. She will be back even with the tough competition in the compound women’s division nowadays.
Vanessa: This may come off a bit harsh, but everyone has work to do. Korea is competing on home soil without having to deal with fatigue from travel or changes in altitude. If the most dominant country in the sport has an opportunity to compete at its best, everyone needs to be pulling up their socks.
George: Everyone had work to do after Antalya. Mete and Sara are very likely building momentum – but Korea will bring fresh challenges. Being on the home turf of arguably the deepest talent pool team in the world will not be easy for anyone. Korea will come out of the gate swinging hard, in both compound and recurve. For everyone else, it will be a trial by fire.
3. The Korean squad return to Hyundai Archery World Cup action in Gwangju. Who are you most excited about seeing from that squad?
Sjef: I am very excited to see Oh Jin Hyek shooting again. He just seems to be unstoppable and I have been a fan for such a long time. I will be stuck to the results and live stream.
Lisa: An San, as she dominated the Olympics last year. I also think their compound archers will be hungry to compete.
John: Lee Gahyun. Apart from a couple of local Asia Cup outings, she hasn’t been seen internationally. She qualified a clear top of the women’s placings, which is something of a statement of intent. Of course, she’s going to be good, but is she going to be the sort of talent like An San or Kim Je Deok?
Dean: Choi Misun and Lee Woo Seok. They both have been top-class archers in the past but have been out of contention for a while and I am curious how they will perform on their home turf and for the rest of the season.
Vanessa: Kang Chae Young. She was largely considered to be the favourite to win the women’s gold medal in Tokyo and I think she's still hungry for that individual glory. She's been nicknamed ‘The Destroyer’ for a reason.
George: Given the postponement of the Asian Games to 2023, which Korea was clearly working up to, I expect we will see the full focus of the squad on racking up all the medals they can at this home stage of the international circuit. Will it be a Korean clean sweep? Not if Brady, Mete, Takaharu, Casey, Michelle, Mike, Sergio, Tanja, Sara and Linda bring their A-games.
I look forward to the unexpected privilege of seeing Oh Jin Hyek in action once again. We are very fortunate that he has not only decided to keep going but continues to shoot at the highest level in the toughest team on the planet.
4. Gwangju will also see the season debuts of a number of countries*. Who are you most excited to see from these teams?
*Brazil, Canada, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago and Uganda.
Sjef: After being knocked out by him at the Olympics in Tokyo and seeing him perform very, very well in Yankton, I am excited to see how Marcus D’Almeida has gotten through the winter season. He is a very hard worker and I am curious to see if it pays off again.
Lisa: There are not a lot of countries from Africa competing in World Archery competitions so I would really like to see more competing at top-level international competitions. Archers from Uganda are rare so I am excited to see them competing in Gwangju.
John: I’m always pleased to see Mexico, they have a bunch of younger talent coming through and the medal in Tokyo will have pushed the squad higher. I am also always happy to watch Alejandra Valencia on the stage; the epitome of a quality performer year in, year out. Perennially dangerous.
Dean: Marcus D'Almeida. The guy is a hero. Love the moustache.
Vanessa: I’m most excited to see the return of Mexico. For the past decade, the women's team has only grown stronger and this World Cup debut in Gwangju will hopefully give us a preview of what's to come.
George: Japan’s Takaharu Furukawa has been leading a talented team of recurve men and I expect them to drop a solid performance in Korea. We might see some brilliance from Mexico as well.
5. Who will win in Gwangju?
Lisa: The best archer on the day will win.
Sjef: Lee Woo Seok has a good chance of winning this stage. Many high-profile Korean coaches have awarded him the title of ‘biggest talent of the last decade’ and he is only growing more and more experienced.
John: I don't think there’s ever been a Korean squad with this many Olympic medals, with this experience, and in this form – and on home turf. We'll likely see some all-Korean battles for the individual titles, in which case it could be… any of them. I just hope we see the rest of the world take the fight right to them at least.
Dean: Always the toughest question of them all. But here goes: Brady Ellison, Mike Schloesser, Sara Lopez and Kang Chae Young.
Vanessa: I won't predict all the winners but my archery (Spidey) senses are telling me: the Colombian compound women’s team, Mete Gazoz, Jean Pizarro and Korea.
George: The true winners of Gwangju will be the TV viewers, fans and World Archery, continuing to provide the highest level of competition despite the last two years of difficulty. We will see inspirational performances and true champions in Korea this month which is what the Hyundai Archery World Cup is all about.