Archery: Bullseye in Nanjing
The archery competitions at Nanjing 2014 certainly hit the target, serving up a new and exciting international mixed-team event, a sudden-death shootout in the women’s individual final and a high-quality finale in the men’s tournament.
Moreno and Li Jiaman shoot straight and true
Luis Gabriel Moreno of the Philippines looked to have little chance of winning gold in the mixed team event when his taxi got lost on the way to the Fangshan Archery Field. He eventually reached the venue just in time, only to find that he and his Chinese partner Li Jiaman were separated by a language barrier.
Quickly overcoming their communication problems, the pair struck up a winning rapport to beat Cynthia Freywald (GER) and Muhamad Zarif Syahiir Zolkepeli (MAS) 6-0 in the final.
“I feel very lucky to be paired with her [Li],” said Moreno afterwards. “She always spoke words of encouragement to me. Though we did have problems communicating at times, our passion for the sport and her friendly nature made everything fall into place.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” he added. “This medal means everything to me. It was rainy and windy and everything was going against us, but we still did it.”
Li agreed that the wind was “definitely an issue”, adding that the duo had to find creative ways to get their message across to each other.
“Sometimes, you can convey more just by your actions,” she said. “We may not get each other’s language, but we high-fived and cheered each other after every turn. Without him, I would not have been able to do it. He was an important part of the team.”
Silver-medallist Freywald was delighted to climb on to the podium. “Oh my God, I have been waiting for this moment for 10 years,” she said. “I will never forget this moment. At first, when I came to know of this mixed format, I was not sure if it would work. But I really enjoyed myself while competing with Malaysia. It was a different experience.”
“I’m struggling with my words to describe how I feel wearing this bronze medal around my neck,” Tuokkola said. “I have to pinch myself to believe it.”
Canadian Peters was just as delighted with his new partner and the new format: “I think it worked, the mixed team concept. If given a chance, I would love to pair up again with her, she is fun.”
Li earns second gold with late fightback
A day after winning team gold, China’s Li Jiaman took the women’s individual title following a one-arrow shootout with Melanie Gaubil (FRA).
The young Chinese archer hauled herself back into contention with a maximum 30 in the last set of the final to level the scores at 5-5 and set up the shoot-out. Li’s sudden-death arrow was right on the mark, with her ten beating Gaubil’s nine.
“I was sweating all over,” confessed Li, who seemed coolness personified in what was a gripping finale. “I was really nervous and I knew that my parents and all my family and the whole country were watching.”
Despite competing in her first international event and shooting for the first time at the shorter 60m distance, bronze medallist Lee Eun Gyeong (KOR) had been hoping for more than third place.
“I’m disappointed because I wanted to win gold and I had some injury problems in the semi-finals,” said the Korean, who went down to a surprise defeat to Gaubil in the last four.
Ranked 18th of the 32 competitors, Brazil’s Ana Machado lost 6-2 to Li in the semi-finals before losing 7-1 to Lee in the bronze-medal match.
No pain no gain for Lee Woo Seok
Lee Woo Seok confirmed his status as the best young male archer in Nanjing as he took gold with a virtually flawless display.
The latest talent to emerge from the Republic of Korea – a true archery powerhouse – the 17-year-old Lee proved more than a match for the rest of the field, which included Brazilian prodigy Marcus Carvalho Lopes Dalmeida.
Lee’s victory did not come easy, however. When asked about the secret of his success, he took his hand away from the gold medal hanging from his neck and opened it to reveal a number of thick calluses.
“These fingers tell a story. There is a lot of pain,” he said. “To come to Nanjing, I had domestic competitions and it is world class. It’s very stressful.”
Making light of that pain, the Korean prodigy beat Carvalho Lopes Dalmeida 7-3 in the final in what was his first competition on a 60m range. The seniors shoot 70m.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s 60m or 70m,” said Lee. “It’s about the target. The medal and the distance do not matter.”
Verma scores a first for India
A product of World Archery’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games development programme, Carvalho Lopes D'almeida dropped a mere four points in five sets in the final, but accepted he had been beaten by the better man.
“I didn’t lose that match. The Korean guy was amazing,” said the Brazilian. “It’s still a dream come true for me to win a medal and now I am looking to Rio 2016 to win a medal there.”
En route to the final, Lee and Carvalho Lopes D'almeida made short work of the opposition in what was a high-quality tournament.
The Brazilian beat Great Britain’s Bradley Denny in the quarter-finals before coming from behind to overcome India’s Atul Verma in the semis.
“I’m not disappointed by the result, actually I’m pretty pleased,” said Denny. “It’s the best individual result I’ve ever had, so to do it at a Youth Olympic Games means I’m quite happy.”
Verma recovered from his semi-final loss to see off Mete Gazoz (TUR) 6-4 in the bronze-medal match.
“This is just the start,” said a delighted Verma. “This is India’s first Olympic archery medal and now I want to get a medal at senior level. I shot well in my semi-final, but I had a few problems during the match and I wasn’t lucky enough to win it.”