South Korean men claim archery gold in Tokyo, teen leads way

AP , Monday 26 Jul 2021
Kim Je Deok
South Korea s Kim Je Deok, center, celebrates at the end of the men s team final match against Taiwan at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. AP

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Led by the steady shooting of teenager Kim Je-deok, South Korea defended its Olympic men's archery team title at the Tokyo Games.

The energetic 17-year-old came up clutch in the semifinals to hold off host nation Japan and then again in a 6-0 win over Taiwan during the gold-medal match Monday at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field.

One of the tricky things was trying to figure out an inconsistent wind on the eve of a possible typhoon moving into the region. The impending high wind and rain has already led to moving some of Tuesday's matches to a different day.

But South Korea had no trouble with the breeze in the final, scoring a 10 on 13 of their 18 arrows. Cheering on the charge was Kim, who combined with 39-year-old Oh Jin-hyek and veteran Kim Woojin to take home the nation's sixth overall Olympic gold medal in the men's event.

This was also the second gold in three days for Kim Je-deok. He helped South Korea win in the Olympic debut of the mixed team competition.

His powerhouse archery nation is now 3 for 3 in gold medals at the Tokyo Games. The women's team won Sunday.

The Taiwanese team made up Deng Yu-Cheng, Tang Chih-Chun and Wei Chun-Heng beat China and the Netherlands before falling to South Korea. Taiwan's men's team falls to 4-13 all-time in head-to-head matchups with South Korea.

In the bronze-medal match, Hiroki Muto helped Japan beat Netherlands in a shoot-off with a walk-off arrow that nearly landed in the heart of the target. He was hugged by teammates Takaharu Furukawa and Yuki Kawata.

In the semifinal match, Japan lost in a shoot-off to South Korea, with Kim Je-deok’s arrow being closest to the center.

The South Korean men's team has now won a medal in eight of the last nine Olympics. The lone exception was a fifth-place showing at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

“Their (South Korea) archery is set up like our Major League Baseball or our NFL is,” said U.S. archer Brady Ellison, whose team was eliminated by Japan in the quarterfinals. "The only way someone’s going to be able to beat Korea is to have a team step up and outwork them. No one’s done that yet.”

On the horizon, some possible bad weather. The Olympic archery schedule was adjusted for Tuesday — just in case. The morning sessions involving first- and second-round individual matches were delayed until noon local time and the afternoon session postponed. The plan is to make up the matches Wednesday and Thursday.

The individual finals for the men and women at the Tokyo Games are still scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

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