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In firing the sternest possible warning to his challengers, the world champion eclipsed the previous best of 699, set by compatriot Im Donghyun in the London 2012 preliminary round. Although he dazzled his Olympic rivals and thrilled the crowd, the poker-faced Kim played down his achievement.
“Getting the world record is very important but tomorrow’s matches are more important,” the 24-year-old said. “In terms of celebrating today, nothing – I want to focus on tomorrow’s match. I practised more than everyone else and I gave my best for the entire round.”
Former world champion Brady Ellison of the United States was also in fine touch, shooting 690 to finish second behind Kim, with Italian David Pasqualucci third with 685.
“It’s really, really fantastic,” Pasqualucci told reporters of Kim’s record. “I think three years or four years ago, only the compound (bow) can do 700. It’s amazing ... The conditions were good, really good today. Only the last two or three ends, maybe we had more wind but not really strong.”
The ranking round determined the seedings for the men’s individual event, which is decided on 12 August.
Kim’s enthusiasm may have been tempered by the fact that on the two previous occasions a world record has been set in the event at the Games, neither athlete went on to win a medal.
Nevertheless, the record should provide a massive boost for Republic of Korea as they bid to win the men’s team gold on Saturday. The South Korean trio, which also features Lee Seungyun and Ku Bonchan, topped the team ranking round from the USA and Italy, and will be anxious to restore their nation’s dominance in the event after its run of three straight Olympic titles was broken by the Americans in the semi-finals at London 2012.
There was more success for the Republic of Korea in the women’s individual ranking round as Choi Misun, Chang Hyejin and Ki Bobae filled the top three positions. World No1 Choi top-scored with 669 points, with her two compatriots a further three and six points back respectively, their combined results leaving the South Koreans comfortably clear in the team ranking round from Russia and China.
“In the beginning there were strong winds so I got a bit worried, but I am very satisfied with our whole team getting a good result,” said reigning world and Olympic individual champion Ki.
“We always have the pressure, all the time,” added Choi, reflecting on the expectations of her and her compatriots at Rio 2016. “But we always do our game with that pressure.”
The first gold medal of the Rio 2016 archery competition will be decided on 6 August, with the men’s team event reaching its conclusion.