Expert opinions and predictions ahead of the fourth stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup
Stage four of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup starts next week in Medellin, Colombia, with 10 archers already confirming their spots at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Tlaxcala in October.
Following stage wins in Antalya, Gwangju or last month in Paris, Miguel Alvarino, Kim Woojin, Marcus D’Almeida, Bryony Pitman, Choi Misun, Utano Agu, Mike Schloesser, Nicolas Girard, Ella Gibson and Kim Yunhee can rest easy knowing they have secured their end-of-season highlight appearance.
All four world number ones (ranking as of 11 July) are confirmed in Colombia: Korea’s Woojin and An San in the recurve division as well as the compounders Mike Schloesser and local hero Sara Lopez.
We spoke to the following four experts for their thoughts on what happened in Paris, what to look out for in South America and a little bit more:
1. Who impressed you in Paris and why?
John: Nicolas Girard was good, but Ella Gibson was extraordinary – again. It's been an amazing year so far, and shows no sign of stopping. But my heart leapt when Marcus finally won. He's been up and down for far too long and second far too many times. I hope he keeps that streak going.
Vanessa: Marcus D'Almeida got me all emotional after his win. He was sick of coming in second and finally, he made it happen in Paris. The road wasn't easy - he had to beat two Olympic champions, Mete Gazoz and Oh Jin Hyek, to make it to the gold medal match.
The match for gold against Kim Je Deok was one of the best I've seen in my life and Marcus won it dramatically with a perfect 10 in the shoot-off. If that's not impressive, I don't know what is.
George: I was impressed with Japan's Utano Agu considering her relative newcomer status to international events (her only other notable international appearance being at an Asian grand prix).
She had standout performances during Japan's team trials events earlier this year, with particularly good form and performance under pressure. She was outstanding through the challenging brackets in the Japan trials, and just as impressive in Paris.
Lisa: Oh Jin Hyek impressed me a lot because after a really long time he is still a very strong archer and a huge idol of the Korean team. He handled shoulder problems a few years ago and he is as competitive as like 13 years ago, no matter how old he is now.
2. Who has work to do after Paris and why?
Lisa: I don't want to name one specific archer who has not had the best performance in Paris because the work never stops. We all have to improve everything all the time.
John: Everyone has work to do. The work never stops. Anyone who thinks it does is fooling themselves. Some of the bigger nations, like Italy, haven't seen enough of the podium this year already. Squeaky bum time.
Vanessa: The tide seems to be turning and if the countries that were once so dominant want to hold their positions, they have work to do. I'm looking at you, Korea, USA, and India.
George: Korea might have achieved men's recurve team gold in Paris, but knowing their expectations, the lack of gold for the individual recurve shooters, as well as the undelivered promise of their compound team qualifier positions, probably meant some hard work has been taking place in the Gwangju archery centre over the past few weeks since Paris.
Certainly, they will be expecting a better payoff in Medellin.
3. Medellin is the last chance to secure a direct ticket to the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final. Does this make any difference to those shooting there who are not qualified yet?
Vanessa: Mentally it may make a difference - it's your last shot to secure your place at the finals. But process-wise, nothing should change. They're still shooting the same arrows at the same targets at the same distance. These archers need to focus on their shots and not what they hope to get out of it.
But, if anyone can do it, it is Lopez, the undisputed GOAT of compound women's archery. A tough challenge, to be sure, especially with Ella Gibson's World Games winning momentum, but one that Sara has faced down successfully before.
With this event being on home turf, the advantage is hers to exploit.
Lisa: Of course, you are thinking 'this is my last chance' in the last World Cup stage of the season, but you have to fade out these kind of thoughts.
It is not really helpful to put more pressure on yourself than usual. Just focus on the shooting routine and the technique. That is the most important thing in this moment - and to trust yourself.
4. Medellin’s 2013 Hyundai Archery World Cup stage has been credited by Sara Lopez as the catalyst of their current-day success. How important was that event for Colombian archery in your opinion?
Lisa: It is very important that every country has a hero in all kind of sports and Sara Lopez with her team is the face of Colombian archery. It all started in Medellin in 2013; they created a big stage for their country and supported the young archers with their success.
John: Nothing succeeds like success, as it were. Seeing fellow countrymen and women return from international competitions with bling is inspiring in a way that is difficult to replicate; it builds a culture of expectation and success.
Look at Germany in Tokyo, and Germany's recurve teams now, even without Lisa. Something has changed. Similarly, big events on home soil, where aspiring archers can see and meet the very best, adds something to the culture. It's levelling up.
Vanessa: I will tell you a story actually. This competition holds a very special place in my heart because it's when I first became friends with Sara Lopez (Vanessa competed there in the recurve women's individual). In 2013, she was this young archer who stormed onto the scene but was nothing more than a true fan of archery and really wanted to swap shirts.
What I love about her is that she's still a true fan of archery at heart despite becoming one of the greatest archers of all time.
5. Who will win in Medellin and why?
Vanessa: Sara The GOAT Lopez.
George: Watch out for the revenge of the Great White Sharks (Korea), after what happened in Paris.
John: I really have no idea. It's wide open. It's been a bit focused on the big nations so far, so I'd really like to see a wildcard from somewhere a bit less wealthy and established have a great day or two and break through.