Korean women finally reserve first Olympic quota at Asian Games

An San during the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Archers from Korea, China and Mongolia reserved Olympic quota places during eliminations today at the Asian Games in Hangzhou – although the places won’t become official until the end of tomorrow’s mixed team event.

China booked a quota in both the men’s and women’s competitions, Otgonbold Baatarkhuyag’s surprise finals berth secured a recurve men’s spot for Mongolia and, by lining up an all-Korean recurve women’s gold medal match, Lim Sihyeon and Tokyo’s triple gold medallist An San finally added a first ticket for Paris.

The Korean women’s team are undefeated at the Games having won nine straight titles since 1988.

The squad’s historic failure to secure even a single quota spot at the primary qualifier, the 2023 Hyundai World Archery Championships, was perhaps the biggest shock of the event.

Although no team place was available to win this week in Hangzhou – one will be given to the winner at the Asian Championships in November – the Korean women now at least have one space for Paris 2024.

“I felt regret,” said An San when asked about the disappointing outcome earlier this summer in Berlin.

But after today’s competition, spirits in the Korean camp are much higher.

“I’m in a very good mood. I’m starting to feel the nervousness now,” she continued. “But the competition isn’t over yet. I will give my all until the very end.”

The recurve men’s title at the Asian Games will go to a non-Korean archer for the first time since 2002 – and it might be China’s Qi Xiangshuo who wins it.

Ranked 23rd in the world arriving at these Asian Games, the 26-year-old secured the first major final of his relatively young career by upsetting top seed Lee Woo Seok in a semifinal tiebreak. Both shot 10s – but the home nation archer’s arrow was measured closer to the middle.

Making the gold medal match also secured China an Olympic place. Xiangshuo’s focus was singular.

“What we are striving for is qualification for all three of us. An individual spot doesn’t mean much,” he said. However, an Asian Games gold medal would mean a lot – and he’ll get it if he can beat one last opponent, an archer who is ranked just 293rd in the world, 270 places lower than Qi.

Shock finalist Otgonbold Baatarkhuyag has already secured Mongolia’s first podium in archery’s 45-year history at the multisport event.

“I’m very, very happy,” he said after a four-set semifinal win over Kazakhstan’s Ilfat Abdullin. “We’re going to the Olympics.”

In another historic result, India secured its first-ever individual champion at the Asian Games after compound eliminations as the men’s final will see World Archery Champion Pravin Deotale and Abhishek Verma, the runner-up at the 2014 edition of this multisport event, contest the title.

Top-seeded compound woman Jyothi Surekha Vennam can add a second gold by beating So Chaewon of Korea.

Competition at the Asian Games continues with mixed team finals on Wednesday when two more quota places for the next Olympic Games will be awarded.

Finals: Asian Games