Rio 2016: Korean Archers Strike Gold, But Fall Short of Perfection

The pressure is on for South Korea’s Olympic archery team.

The Korean archers have already snagged two of the four gold medals up for grabs at the Rio games, but a shocking upset in the second round of the men’s individual competition means the Koreans won’t be able to complete the much-wanted golden sweep.

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The South Korean men’s archery team celebrates their team win over the U.S. Image via Reuters

The Koreans took the golds in both the men’s and women’s team categories in dominating fashion. You can watch each of the teams shoot perfect sets here.

Their quest for perfect fell short after the top-ranked Kim Woojin was taken down Monday by a relatively unknown Indonesian archer in the men’s individual contest.

2016 Rio Olympics - Archery - Preliminary - Men's Individual 1/32 Eliminations - Sambodromo - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 08/08/2016. Kim Woo-Jin (KOR) of South Korea competes. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Kim Woojin in the men’s individual archery competition. He fell to 24-year-old Riau Ega Agatha from Indonesia.

That means it’s now up to Ki Bo Bae to bring home Korea’s third gold archery medal from Rio. Ranked no. 1 in the world, she’ll be looking for a repeat of the London games, where she snagged two golds — one of which came during a nail-biter final that she won by millimeters.

It hasn’t been a breezy ride at the top since then, though. In 2014, the champ missed the cut for the Korean’s national team, and had to get back into gear to re-earn a spot on the squad for 2015.

That time off made her even more determined to accomplish the London repeat, according to an interview she did late last year. She’s been rigorously training (read: shooting more than 500 arrows a day in conditions like subzero temperatures and noisy stadiums) to sweep at Rio and continue on with her career, possibly even to Tokyo in 2020.

If she does defend her individual Olympic gold, she won’t just be adding to Korea’s medal pile – she would become the first archer to win two individual Olympic titles in a row.

Archers Choi Misun and Chang Hye Jin competed with Ki earlier in the games to take home the Women’s Team Archery gold medal. The trio made it look easy, with Ki getting four perfect scores and leading the team to a 5-1 win over the silver medalists Russia. It was the eighth consecutive win for the women’s Korean team at the Olympics.

On the men’s side, Kim Woojin had more success in the team competition, along with teammates Ku Bonchan and Lee Seungyun.

If Ki is able to win her individual gold, it will uphold Korea’s dominant legacy in the sport. The nation has claimed 19 of the 36 possible Olympic titles dating back to 1972.

Along with adding to the country’s medal count every year, that has also meant that the country’s coaches have been in demand all around the world. Several of the top competitors in Rio have Korean coaches, as was the case in London in 2012. Eleven of the teams then, including the four countries in the semifinals, were coached by South Koreans.

That means that whatever goes down in the archery competitions in Rio this August, South Koreans will likely have had a hand in it.

Ki Bo Bae will be defending her title all this week, with the final match going down Thursday afternoon. You can check your local listings for the best place to watch.

SnackFever is sending well wishes for the best of luck to all the Korean athletes in Rio this year!

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