Korea’s Kim Woojin made up for his Olympic disappointment by beating Marcus D’Almeida to clinch his third recurve men’s gold and his third world title after 2011 and 2015 at the World Archery Championships in Yankton.
“I’m really happy. It really has taken a long time to get here right now. I’m really happy and honoured to be here,” said Woojin.
He is the third man and the fourth archer in history to win three world titles.
Janina Kurkowska won five in the early years of the event (1933, 1934, 1936, 1939 and 1947), Hans Deutgen followed with four consecutive in 1947-1950, when the championship was held annually, and Rick McKinney collected three in 1977, 1983 and 1985.
A decade on from his first crown, Woojin’s achievement is remarkable in the modern era of the sport, in which head-to-head matchplay decides the champion – rather than a single round and overall score.
He was asked how the result places himself in the pantheon of great archers. His answer was spirited.
“I don’t consider myself the best archer in the world, because I’m not retired yet. I’m looking forward to winning more and more. When I retire, then I could be saying I’m the best archer in the world,” the 29 year-old said.
Having qualified top on a windy day in Yankton, Woojin’s campaign for a third title stuck into gear with a four-set quarterfinal victory over Galsan Bazarzhapov. He then outlasted Olympic Champion Mete Gazoz in a five-setter in the semis, finishing the match with a perfect 10 to prevent a shoot-off.
In the final against D’Almeida, Woojin jumped to an early lead, winning the first two sets.
His young Brazilian opponent, who was crowned under-18 world champion in this very city six years ago, recovered with a perfect 30 in the third – and then they split the set points in the fourth. Woojin had the advantage, 5-3.
At the end of the fifth and final set, Marcus, who had been so impressive, shot an eight. He walked off the line and knew it was over. Kim, with two 10s in the target, needed a seven to end it. He shot a nine and raised his arms to the sky.
Marcus’s silver medal is Brazil’s first-ever podium at the world championships.
“I worked hard. It’s what I said in Tokyo, that I felt I was on the path,” said D’Almeida. “When I came back from Japan, my whole family watched the Olympics together and my grandmother was very sad with my loss. Today I’m here with her. My nan is 90 years old and I don’t ever want to see her sad. This victory is for her.”
Defending world champion Brady Ellison beat Gazoz to the bronze medal, 6-2.
“I’m pretty excited. Back to back world championships, bringing home two different medals, pretty cool,” he said. “This is my 20th world championship medal… so I’m pretty excited to hit that mark.”
The recurve men’s podium is the same as the top of the qualifying leaderboard. The top three seeds ended up in the medal positions.
In the women’s competition, Korean archer Jang Minhee beat Casey Kaufhold of the USA in straight sets to claim her first individual gold medal and the world title.
“This is my first world championships and also my last event as a Korean national team member for this season. For the last game, I won. I’m really happy. I really enjoyed it,” said Minhee.
The 22-year-old suffered on the path to the final.
After seeding third, she survived a shoot-off in her first match against Lidiia Sichenikova – and then, in the arena, another against Lisa Barbelin.
Alejandra Valencia was millimetres from stealing the win in the semis, several of her arrows landing just outside the 10-ring.
But Jang held strong – and won it, even with an eight to finish.
She spoke about her timing after the session, saying she struggled to maintain pace under the pressure of the arena.
The final was Minhee’s easiest match of the day.
She outclassed Kaufhold, who had clearly expended everything in an upset of Olympic Champion and favourite An San in the semis, with three sets of 29, 28 and 29 points.
“At first, I was really nervous, but I tried to focus on the way I’m pulling. Finally, the gold medal, I got one. I’m so happy right now,” said the winner.
This is Minhee’s first season on the Korean top team.
She won the Olympic team title in Tokyo and in Yankton, at her first world championships, has both team and individual gold.
Casey Kaufhold’s silver is the first individual podium for a USA recurve woman at the world championships since Denise Parker in 1989. At 17-year-old of age, it’s a phenomenal achievement.
“Gold would’ve been great but I think, throughout, I kept composure and I had a good performance. To win a medal on home soil is just great,” she said.
Kaufhold’s mother was in the stands to watch.
Olympic Champion An San beat Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia to bronze. The pair was tied after four sets – and the top seed finished with a perfect 30-point set to break the deadlock.
“It’s really meaningful for me, no matter what colour of medal it is,” said An San. “When I came here my first aim was the team medal, that’s why I’m really satisfied with the result here.”
It is the first time since 2015 that two Korean recurve women have climbed the world podium. Jang Minhee is the 11th archer from Korea to win this title.
Recurve women’s final ranking
- Jang Minhee
- Casey Kaufhold
- An San
- Alejandra Valencia
- Lisa Barbelin
- Svetlana Gomboeva
- Ankita Bhakat
- Yasemin Anagoz
Recurve men’s final ranking
- Kim Woojin
- Marcus D’Almeida
- Brady Ellison
- Mete Gazoz
- Galsan Bazarzhapov
- Miguel Alvarino Garcia
- Samet Ak
- Kim Je Deok
by Andrea Vasquez for World Archery