- 18 Aug 2004
Park fires Koreans to new heights in the archery
Park had emerged as a world-class archer shortly after the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. She got her first call-up to the famously strong South Korean team in 2001 and almost immediately went on to win the world title. From then on, she won medals wherever she competed, claiming an individual silver and team gold at the 2003 World Championships. But it was in Athens that Park reached the pinnacle of her career.
The South Koreans were always expected to do well given their overall dominance in women's archery. They had won the team competition at each edition of the Games since 1988, not to mention every individual gold since 1984. Even by those standards, though, Park was about to produce something truly memorable.
At times, her display seemed to be taking women's archery into a whole new realm of brilliance.
In the ranking round, where South Korean archers filled the top three spots, she set a new 72-arrow world record of 682. After that came a first round stroll against May Mansour of Egypt and another one-sided victory over Russia's Nataliya Bolotova. Great Britain's Naomi Folkard was beaten 171-159 in the third round, before an immaculate 111-101 win over Greece's Evangelia Psarra broke local hearts.
Having made it through to the semi-finals without ever being pushed too hard, she found herself up against Great Britain's Alison Williamson. The Korean was again outstanding as she dispatched her opponent 110-100.
It was only in the final, where she was pitted against compatriot Lee Seong-Jin, that she experienced any kind of setback. After Lee took an early lead, Park was required to perform at her brilliant best for the rest of the encounter in order to take gold 110-108.
A second gold followed in the team competition, although China pushed the Republic of Korea hard in the final. Four years later, Park lost her individual title by a single point to the Chinese archer Zhang Juanjuan, but helped Republic of Korea retain the team title as they prevailed over Zhang's Chinese team. She retired after the 2008 Games in Beijing and married fellow archer Park Gyeong-Mo.