Olympic veteran, Asian Games champion to lead nat’l archery teams for Paris 2024

A two-time Olympic champion Kim Woo-jin and a triple Asian Games gold medalist Lim Si-hyeon will headline the South Korean men's and women's archery teams at the upcoming Paris Summer Games. The national team trials concluded Thursday afternoon in Yecheon, some 160 kilometers southeast of Seoul, with the top three archers each from the men's and the women's sides qualifying for this year's Olympics. Lim, who won three gold medals at last year's Asiad in Hangzhou, China, won the women's trials with 17.6 points earned from five rounds. The 20-year-old Lim will be joined by two virtual unknowns in Jeon Hun-young and Nam Su-hyeon, who scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, to round out the top three. Their qualification, combined with the early elimination of the 2021 triple Olympic champion An San, illustrates South Korea's depth in archery and the inherent volatility of the sport. Coaches and archers alike have said earning a spot on the South Korean national team is more difficult than winning an Olympic medal. Jeon, 29, counts a bronze medal at the 2014 World University Archery Championship as one of her few international medals. Paris 2024 will be her first major competition. Nam is a 19-year-old who graduated from high school earlier this year. She grabbed silver medals in individual and team events at the National Sports Festival last year. The trio will chase South Korea's 10th consecutive gold medal in the women's team event. A dominant force in archery for decades, South Korea began its historic women's team winning streak in Seoul in 1988. Lim said she was honored to be back on the national team and she will try to make the most of her opportunity. She also said she wasn't worried about the lack of international experience for her two new teammates. "They are all great athletes. I have no worries at all," Lim said. "I think we are more than capable of winning our 10th straight team gold medal." Hong Seung-jin, the national team head coach, said he had full trust in the women's team. "I think yo u all know that the Korean national team trials are tougher than the Olympics," Hong said. "And I believe in these athletes. If they can become one, they can bring home the gold medal. Communication between the athletes and the coaching staff will be crucial." More familiar names made the men's team, with two of the three members from the gold medal-winning squad at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics returning. Kim Woo-jin, 31, won the trials with 16 points and will compete in his third straight Olympic Games -- tied with two others for the longest such streak by a South Korean male archer. Kim helped South Korea to the men's team gold medals in both 2016 and 2021. Kim Je-deok, who turned 20 on Friday, finished third in the trials with 12 points and will join Kim Woo-jin in South Korea's title defense. Kim Je-deok burst onto the scene in Tokyo, winning both the men's team and the mixed team gold medals as a 17-year-old. Finishing second in the trials was Lee Woo-seok, who scored 13.6 points. The 26-year-old won two gold medals in Hangzhou and will make his Olympic debut in Paris. Lee had initially qualified for Tokyo for 2020, but then didn't survive the new round of trials after the Olympics got postponed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The third member from Tokyo, Oh Jin-hyek, finished eighth in the trials. The 42-year-old, the 2012 Olympic individual champion, has been battling through chronic shoulder pain for years and may be nearing retirement. Kim Woo-jin, now the elder statesman on the team, said Oh will be sorely missed. "I've been with Jin-hyek since I first made the national team, and he's been a big brother that I can lean on," Kim said. "It's really a shame he didn't make the team, but I guess that shows you how much time has passed. At some point in the future, someone younger will take my place, and Korean archery will remain on top." Kim shot down the notion that other countries are closing the gap on South Korea, saying, "We have kept evolving, and I think we have actually widened the gap with the rest of the world." Kim Je-deok said he will adopt the same mindset that he had in Tokyo as he enters his second Olympics at the ripe age of 20. "Kim Woo-jin and Lee Woo-seok are unbelievable archers," the youngster said. "I will try to learn as much as I can." Five gold medals will be up for grabs in Paris -- mixed team, men's individual and team, and women's individual and team -- and South Korea will go for an unprecedented sweep. In Tokyo, the country won four out of five gold medals, only getting shut out in the men's individual event. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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