RIO DE JANEIRO – There was nothing the least bit shaky about South Korean archer Kim Woo-jin’s world-record performance at the Olympics.
He was in such rhythm that the wobbly piece of plywood the competitors stood on to shoot failed to even distract him.
Kim set a recurve world record with a score of 700 on Friday during the qualifying round of archery at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
A perfect score is 720, with archers shooting a total of 72 arrows. The results of the qualifying round are used to determine the seedings for the bracketed tournament next week.
Of Kim’s 72 arrows, 52 were in the 10 ring, which is the highest score. He didn’t have an arrow score below a 9.
Still, he didn’t have time to revel in his feat. There’s a team competition the following day and his focus is on medals, not records.
“Today, it doesn’t feel that important,” Kim said through a translator.
His fellow competitors were impressed enough for him:
— “Really, really fantastic,” David Pasqualucci of Italy said.
— “He was perfect. It’s a big incentive for me, to go further, to go higher and higher,” Marcus D’Almeida of Brazil said.
— “The fact he shot a 700 is amazing,” said Brady Ellison of the United States, who finished second in qualifying with a score of 690. “Should’ve been 5 or 6 points higher, too.”
In Ellison’s opinion, that’s because of the creaky surface. There was scaffolding on the ground and on top of that was a thin piece of plywood. It tended to shift each time someone moved in the long line of shooters.
“It’s not enough to really, really hurt you, or enough to make a huge complaint about it. But I do believe it cost the whole field a few points,” said Ellison, who combined with teammates Zach Garrett and Jake Kaminski to finish second as a team behind the South Koreans in qualifying. “Kim’s (score) is just really impressive.”
In women’s qualifying, South Korea’s Choi Misun was on Olympic-record pace until a breeze picked up in the middle of the competition. She finished with a score of 669, which was slightly ahead of her teammates, Chang Hye-jin (666) and Ki Bo-bae (663).
The Olympic mark is held by Ukraine’s Lina Herasymenko, who scored 673 at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Ki has the women’s world record of 686, which she set in 2015.
“We had bad conditions compared to this morning, but the result was good so I have some confidence,” said Choi, whose nation has won seven straight Olympic gold medals in the women’s team event. “We have the best players, we have talent and skill. It’s so windy that people can get overwhelmed, but we (did) well in the end.”
Kim certainly settled into the Sambadrome quite nicely, with the walls making any sort of breeze hardly detectable. There also were newly added Olympic logos on a green backdrop behind the target that gave the archers better depth perception.
And Kim took advantage.
He opened with a 10 and was just warming up.
On his final arrow, he connected on a 10 to beat the previous mark of 699 for 72 arrows set by Im Dong-hyun of South Korea at the 2012 London Games. Im is the visually impaired archer whose story made headlines in London. He didn’t make a strong South Korean team for Rio that’s obviously led by Kim.
“I think three years, four years ago, only the compound bow can (score a) 700,” Pasqualucci said, alluding to another form of bow used in other competitions but not at the Olympics. “That’s not correct now. It’s amazing.”
Kim was the overwhelming favorite heading into the Olympics and did nothing to dispel that belief.
“Today was just a ranking,” said Kim, a two-time individual world champion. “Tomorrow the match is more important. Want to focus on tomorrow — not really be happy today.”
D’Almeida also is a medal favorite and wound up 34th in qualifying. He insisted the pressure of competing in his backyard doesn’t add extra stress.
“Doesn’t make a difference,” D’Almeida said. “It’s difficult everywhere.”
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