Team GB has a South Korean archery coach once more. Song I Woo has joined the Archery GB team. She’s listed as ‘technical coach’ at the moment.
She’s the coach whose archers wowed the world at London 2012, overturning the status quo. Now Song I Woo, the woman who coached Mexico’s Aida Roman and Mariana Avitia to Olympic silver and bronze, is hoping to have the same impact in Britain.
Song I, 28, has joined Archery GB as its new Performance Coach. She will be working with the whole performance squad but will be focusing much of her attention on the academies and our budding young stars.
And she couldn’t be happier about it. “I love it here,” she said. “I love England and I love the countryside. Everyone here is so friendly. They help me every day and support me.”
What led the former Korea women’s team member to Lilleshall? She turned to coaching after injuring her shoulder in 2006 and was recruited by Mexico immediately after Korea won the World Championships in 2009. It took just over two years to take Mexico from relative obscurity in archery to Olympic glory.
Three months after the Olympics she was approached by Performance Director Sara Symington and Olympic Coach Lloyd Brown. The task? To take a fresh, objective look at British archery.
So what does she think? There needs to be more young archers coming through so that talent can be spotted early. And she wants to work with Lloyd and Paralympic Coach Michael Peart on making the squad stronger.
“I don’t want to change alignment but I do want to change technique a little to make them work more rhythmically. It’s going back to basics, almost like starting again. I want them to work harder and longer. More activity and more focus. And it will take maybe four years.
It will be a bit of a culture change, she thinks, but it will be an extension of the work already being done by Lloyd, Michael and all the Archery GB staff
And there is potential for great success. Korea, she says, is too serious about archery. It’s non-stop hard work on basic correct technique from a very young age. And Mexico is, perhaps, not serious enough. “I think it is all the sunshine. It’s fun, a party. They are very laid back.” Britain is somewhere between the two, she says.
Sara Symington is delighted at Song I’s move to the UK. “It’s great to have Song I join our coaching workforce,” she said.
“As we start to develop our performance pathway she will be instrumental in increasing the quality and quantity of robust competitive archers. That will raise the level of competition and lead to higher standards which, in turn, increases our chances of succeeding on the world stage.
“She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience but also a great sense of humour!”
Bold mine. Although I could have sworn that Lee Woong (also South Korean, natch) was the head coach for Mexico at London 2012 – which lead to that semi-hilarious mixup when both Avitia and Roman shot against each other in the individual semi – as mentioned by Aida Roman here. Nosing around on the interweb, there seems to be a suggestion that she was Aida Roman’s personal coach – and there’s also an unsupported hint that she left the Mexican squad due to differences.
But it’s all good. Good luck. Lovely name, too. Sounds like how you’d describe a lullaby to its intended recipient.