No Olympic return for An San as reigning champ misses Korean team

An San at the world championships in Berlin in 2023.

Reigning Olympic Champion An San has been eliminated from contention for the Korean team for Paris 2024, as the shortlist was cut to 16 per gender at the halfway point in the final open selection event in Gwangju today.

Eight men and eight women will be named to the national squad on Thursday.

Two further tournaments (in late March and early April) will decide the six archers that archery’s leading competitive nation will send to the upcoming Olympics – where the recurve women’s team will attempt to win an historic 10th consecutive title at the Games.

Three-time World Archery Champion Kim Woojin and last year’s breakout star Lim Sihyeon currently lead the standings.

An San ranked 21st at the time of the cut, having finished bottom of the 24 remaining recurve women over today’s programme of 70-metre rounds and simulated matches. Her 9.09-point arrow average over the trials trailed leader Lim’s 9.33 by a wide margin.

Despite winning an unprecedented three gold medals – including the first mixed team title – at Tokyo 2020, the 23-year-old is a casualty of Korea’s famously ruthless selection process, which annually selects only the highest-performing athletes irrespective of past results.

After a choppy season in 2023, which saw the Korean women produce their worst result ever at the World Championships and only secure an Olympic ticket later in the process, it is critical that Korea gets this team selection right.

As well as An San, Tokyo team gold medallist Jang Minhee missed the cut today, as did Rio 2016 Olympic Champion Ku Bonchan.

However, his ageless Hyundai Steel teammate, legendary London 2012 Olympic Champion Oh Jin Hyek, who has openly discussed retirement for the last five years – when he can no longer keep pace, he now says – is doing more than just hanging on in the process this year.

The 42-year-old sits fourth behind Woojin, Kim Je Deok and reigning World University Games Champion Seo Mingi, another Hyundai Steel team member.

Korean trials – top 16

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