Archer remains confident in Korean Olympic chances despite recent struggles

Korean archer Kim Je-deok, left, speaks during the media day for the Korean delegation to the Paris Olympics at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, June 26.  Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

For decades, Korea has been the gold standard in Olympic archery, the singular force against which all others have been measured. The country has won 27 gold medals and 43 medals in total in the sport, more than any other country.

In the buildup to the Paris Olympics, where five gold medals will be at stake, the aura of invincibility, however, has been nonexistent.

At the latest Archery World Cup stop in Antalya, Turkey, held earlier this month, Korea failed to win an individual medal in the women’s recurve event. Kim Woo-jin won the men’s recurve title, but he was the only Korean to reach the podium in an individual event. The Antalya World Cup was the last international event before Paris.

Korea swept the men’s and women’s team gold medals, though concerns remain over their individual performances. This was the first World Cup in 10 years in which Korea didn’t produce a medalist in women’s recurve.

With the Olympics now 30 days away, Kim Je-deok, about to make his second straight appearance, declared Wednesday there is no need to worry about his team.

“This is all part of the process for the Olympics. Just because we were knocked out early at the World Cup, it doesn’t mean we are not taking things seriously,” Kim said during the media day organized by the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee at the Jincheon National 안전 Training Center in Jincheon, 85 kilometers southeast of Seoul. “Everyone is working hard. And we’ve reworked our training venue to resemble the competition site in Paris, and I think it’s going to have a positive impact on our preparation. I don’t think there’s anything we have to worry about.”

Kim himself was gone after the round of 32 in Antalya, but the 20-year-old said his confidence in himself has never wavered.

Kim won two gold medals in his Olympic debut in Tokyo as a teenage sensation, and he said he is now ready to put the lessons he’s learned over the past three years to good use in Paris.

“I’ve learned how to get the best out of myself even when I am not feeling 100 percent physically,” Kim said. “I feel like I can compete with a lot of confidence even under intense pressure. At my first Olympics, I didn’t really know what was going on. And I think I’ve grown so much over the past three years, and I feel like I’ve earned this opportunity to compete at another Olympics.”

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