Newly crowned Olympic Champion An San and her Korean teammate Kim Woojin finished top of the qualifying in the recurve events at the World Archery Championships in Yankton.
But it did not go as planned in the early stages for An San as she was only in 13th spot after the first 36 arrows.
But the 20-year-old came back strongly to shoot recurve women’s field-leading 331 for the back half to finish with 646 points in total, overtaking Mexico’s Alejandro Valencia for the top spot with six arrows left to go in the 72-arrow round.
“I needed to get some time to get familiar with the environment here, but it’s getting better and better. I’m happy with that. I needed to find out the direction of the wind, and it was quite tricky for me. During the break, I thought about the wind and the situation on the field and tried to make it work,” said An San.
Her result is the lowest score shot by a top recurve women’s seed at the worlds (by 21 points) since the format was introduced in 2015, which gives some indication of the challenge that archers faced.
Valencia held on for second, two points behind An San on 644. Korea’s Jang Minghee and Kang Chae Young rounded up the top four.
American Casey Kaufhold, European Champion Lisa Barbelin, Olympic runner-up Elena Osipova and former Olympic silver medallist Aida Roman finished behind the top four.
Two-time world champion Kim Woojin, who won his first title a decade ago in Turin, shot a 677 to top the men’s field.
Given the blustery conditions, it was a great effort from Woojin, who finished ahead of Brazil’s Marcus D’Almeida, who shot 670 points.
“The environment wasn’t perfect, but I managed my circumstances the best I could and focused on my timing, which I thought was the best approach for today,” said Kim, referring to the rhythm of his sequence.
Reigning World Archery Champion Brady Ellison recovered from 21st at halfway to third by the end of the round.
Wei Chun-Heng, the silver medallist at the worlds in 2017, was fourth. Miguel Alvarino, Korean duo of Kim Je Deok and Oh Jin Kyek together with Thomas Chirault are the other top finishers.
Woojin looks in fine form to secure a third-career world crown. If he does, he would be the first since USA’s Rick McKinney, who won the event in 1977, 1983 and 1985. He could also be the first Korean archer to win three world titles.
If An San converts her top seed into the top spot on the podium, she would become the first archer in history to win Olympic gold and world gold in the same year.
(No Olympic archery competition has ever been held in the same year as the championships before.)
Korea won all three team titles at the Games in Tokyo and has all three top team seeds here in Yankton. An San, who won three Olympic golds herself, was the superstar of the squad – and there will be domestic expectations for a repeat on this stage.
“This is my first world championships,” she said. “I’m trying to enjoy, rather than getting pressured.”
Competition continues at the world championships with team eliminations on Wednesday.
Top seeds: Recurve men
- Kim Woojin, Korea – 677
- Marcus D’Almeida, Brazil – 670
- Brady Ellison, USA – 659
- Wei Chun-Heng, Chinese Taipei – 656
- Miguel Alvarina, Spain – 655
- Kim Je Deok, Korea – 653
- Oh Jin Hyek, Korea – 653
- Thomas Chirault, France – 653
Top seeds: Recurve women
- An San, Korea – 646
- Alejandra Valencia, Mexico – 644
- Jang Minhee, Korea – 642
- Kang Chae Young, Korea – 640
- Casey Kaufhold, USA – 639
- Lisa Barbelin, France – 638
- Elena Osipova, RAF – 636
- Aida Roman, Mexico – 635