Tag Archives: chinese taipei

2022 Taipei Archery Open

21 December, 2022

In 2016, I attended the archery World Cup Final, held in Odense, Denmark not long after the Olympics and Paralympics wrapped in Rio. When I was there, I wrote a piece for World Archery about things that people always take with them to tournaments; which brought an interesting range of answers from cuddly toys to beef jerky.

I asked the question (via a helpful translator) to Tan Ya-Ting – twice an Olympian, multiple world and circuit medallist, and a veteran fixture on the Chinese Taipei team. She held out her hands for my camera, showing me two Buddhist temple amulets. She told me the one on the left is from a temple near her house, and it’s supposed to bring safety and security.

The one on the right is from a temple near her best friend’s house, and it’s supposed to bring good results. (Later that day, Tan Ya Ting got knocked out by Ki Bo Bae in the semi-finals, and went on to take bronze.)

Ya Ting was still very much at it at the Taipei Archery Open in December 2022, although she didn’t trouble the higher brackets of the women’s recurve division. But the lady shooting next to her had a similar amulet hanging from her back.

It’s true that many archers, and many elite archers are God-fearing men and women, including some of the sport’s most famous champions. Many bring amulets, talismans, prayer beads, or other religious artefacts with them on tour.

I’ve heard plans and goals qualified with multiple ‘inshallahs‘, and the Christian equivalent from many more. I’ve seen prayers waiting to go on, and prayers on the podium, and thanking the big man on high after slamming in that win, countless times. It’s part of the fabric of international sport, and part of life. But I’ve long been fascinated with the interplay of religion and luck. I was hoping, before I went to Taiwan, that I’d find out a bit more about it. Also, I was hungry. Really hungry.

A few years ago, I wrote an article here called ‘In case you’ve ever wondered where Chinese Taipei is‘, explaining, in very broad-brush detail, why Taiwan is always referred to in sporting and several other contexts as Chinese Taipei. If you don’t know why, I recommend having a read. Or read this, if you want considerably more detail.

A short version: the ‘Chinese Taipei’ pseudonym is carefully negotiated to not really mean anything specific and custom-designed to avoid damaging political rows. Which is why it is absolutely sacrosanct to organisations like the International Olympic Committee. Which is why you will never see the word ‘Taiwan’ in any Olympic context or referring to an Olympic sport like archery, ever.

Once you actually get to Taiwan, it’s a different matter, and you will find that the words ‘Chinese Taipei’ don’t exist – in their English-language press at least. You can delve into the history of modern Taiwan all day. A short version: since the transition to democracy at the end of the 1980s, after decades of brutal military dictatorship, there has been a long, steady and inexorable demographic change in its population towards independence and a distinctly Taiwanese identity.

Many people now see the ‘Chinese Taipei’ fig leaf – negotiated in 1979 to allow Taiwan to take part in Olympic and other international sport – as an embarrassing compromise belonging to another era. There have even been street protests about it, part of the wider (and magnificently named) de-sinicization movement.

In February 2018, a referendum question was proposed that asked if the nation should apply under the name of ‘Taiwan’ for all international sports events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This bit of sabre-rattling led the East Asian Olympic Committee to revoke the Taiwanese city of Taichung’s rights to host the first East Asian Youth Games. In Lausanne, the IOC was also deeply unhappy and sent three different warnings to the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee ahead of the referendum vote, making it abundantly clear that they risked being barred from the Olympics.

In the end, the proposal was narrowly rejected: “the main argument for opposing the name change was worrying that Taiwan may lose its Olympic membership under Chinese pressure, which would result in athletes unable to compete in the Olympics.” The Olympics is a big thing here, and the archers are a big part of that thing.

And that’s just our thing. The archery success in Korea has also been mirrored in Taiwan down to the modern structure, with pro teams and corporate sponsorship driving the ultimate goal of international medals on the world stage.

There are many other interesting parallels with modern Taiwan and South Korea; ‘island’ nations (literally or figuratively), both conquered by Japan, reborn after crushing civil wars, suffering decades of dictatorship, and creating economic miracles against the backdrop of powerful communist neighbours. In this century both are hi-tech powerhouses deploying variants of soft power around the world. The difference is, that Taiwan remains only a de facto state, with mainland China consisting and aggressively fending off any and all attempts to make it de jure.

Today Taiwan is a country a sixth the size of Great Britain with a third of the population, almost all crammed onto the western half of the island. Again like South Korea, around two thirds of the country is mountains or uplands. Around a third of the population live in the Taipei metropolitan area. Taiwan has an extraordinary culture all of its own, which has long set sail from its Han Chinese and mainland roots.

So I’m here for archery. Mostly. The instant I am able – about ten minutes after checking into my hotel – I head for the Ningxia night market, which turns out to be a two kilometre wander through dark, dense and oddly European looking streets. Only antique shops are still open by now, along with the ubiquitous 7-Elevens found on almost every corner. Once I finally get there, everything instantly sings of the city, in the rain; the steam, the lights, the beckoning hand art, the smells, the thrum, the energy.

In Britain, street food has become something aspirational and imported, another take of the fabled ‘cafe culture’ that we supposedly yearn for. We even now happily import some versions wholesale to major cities, such as German Christmas markets. It’s exotic and expensive, and often a flex of ‘modern British’ cuisine.

In Taiwan, night markets are strongly associated with religion. Almost all of them – there are around a dozen just in Taipei, depending on definition – are based around temples, serving food and goods for temple-goers. They have become iconic markers of Taiwanese culture in their own right, with their own standards and patterns and etiquette. It helps that Taiwan has a temperate climate almost all year round, and while drizzly and humid, rarely gets cold enough not to allow people to venture outside.

There’s nothing fancy about the night markets. Cheap chairs, strings of lights, gas canisters. The food is relatively simple: each stall usually focuses on one or two dishes only. I am starving. I want to eat pretty much everything everywhere, but decide on grilled squid first. A voracious predator, helplessly spatchcocked onto hot bars, helped to its final fate with a blowtorch.

I can smell it again now; the smoke, the spices from the hoisin and chili barbeque sauce that smothers it, the hint of herbs and the singe of suckers. Eventually, a nice lady chops it for me and adds what tastes like Thai basil and even more hot, orange chilis, and hands it to me. Who are you? You don’t speak Chinese. A shrug. She doesn’t care. No one cares. You’re another punter.

It’s delicious. It hits every beat for grilled marine life and charred flesh and zinging satisfaction. I destroy it in minutes, and move on to some of the more interesting delights; the grilled chicken, and the gua bao bun barely holding on its chunks of sticky pork belly. Feel a greed I’ve not felt for years.


Oh sorry, yes… archery. The next day I am welcomed into the depths of the cavernous NTSU Arena, a gladiatorial multi-purpose sports venue heading back out of the city, back towards the airport, on the almost ridiculously efficient mass transit system. It’s affectionately known as ‘The Burger‘. It’s tidy and clean even if, like quite a lot of things in Taipei, it could do with a lick of paint.

Unlike the vast majority of indoor archery venues it is properly lit, so the archers can see the targets. (You know. The basic stuff.) The organisation is impeccable. We’re also back to masks. Everyone wears masks, all the time, when not shooting. In the arena. In the airport. On the train. In the hotel. Remember that? Remember how that used to be?.

The venue has coffee and judges and archers and people striding around and all the usual. But there’s this slight Lord Of The Flies feel; with the exception of the venue staff and the creaking archery carnies like myself manning stalls and cameras, the average age of the peloton is just twenty years old. There’s an immense youth contingent dragging that average down, but it’s notable just how incredibly young and fresh faced and in-shape everyone is. Healthy young people. Everywhere. Goddamn them all. And organised, into schools and pro teams and sponsors and much more.

The long-planned, but last-minute organisation, on top of some of the longest lasting and strictest COVID immigration rules in the world, means that only a handful of overseas archers have made it to this international event. There’s a few each from Hong Kong, Singapore, India and some others, and just two from Europe – but what a two. Mike and Gaby Schloesser, who I already bumped into at the airport, are very much turning up to win. Gaby asks me what I am doing here. I say I’m here because of the food. She laughs. She thinks I’m joking.

Thank you Ting-Ni. The way to a man’s heart, and all that. In the overly-tableclothed press den suddenly appears some cold pressed tofu flavoured with fivespice and something dark and liquorice-y, plus a preserved ‘iron’ egg, looking like a black plum, thrumming with sweet spice. There’s also some kind of sliced fruit which seems like apple but isn’t quite an apple (or was it?), lightly dusted with cinnamon and maybe something else. I should have asked about this one. But I quite like not spoiling the strange magic. It’s all good. The entry fee includes lunch for all. The lunch is good too; pork and rice and two kinds of salad. You don’t get that at Stoneleigh.

Not all the host nation’s Olympic team are here, with the most notable absence being 2019 World Champion Lei Chien-Ying, doyenne of the international women’s recurve team, and one of the few archers with that presence, who seemed to grow into the role of upsetter she occupied in Den Bosch in those heady pre-pandemic days. She can flex. She can strut. The Svetlana Khorkina of archery. I hope she stays around.

But it’s clear, from the qualification round, that compound men and recurve women are Mike and Gaby’s to lose, respectively. Mikey in particular is in full flow, zero doubts, rattling off the shots, nodding, stomping. It’s all there today.


At the end of the day I sneak off on the train to Keelung, the coastal city north-east of Taipei, famous for its night market. This one is supposed to be more tourist friendly, unlike the slightly intimidating Ningxia. It a quiet night under the drizzle, and I don’t see any other tourists – at least, not Western European ones.

Each stall has its key offering listed in Chinese, English and Japanese. It’s just as well. While younger people here tend to speak at least a tiny bit of English, older people mostly don’t and the miracle that is Google Translate’s camera feature often breaks down into a chaotic and terrifying mess:

Keelung lives up to expectations. The temple in the middle is blocked off and undergoing restoration, and the picturesquely Instagrammable rows of yellow lanterns were turned off this evening. But the food and the atmosphere are still electric, if you can avoid the ever-present scooters piling down tiny streets and through the market itself. Despite the drizzle, there’s a feeling of a bit more depth here, and a slightly tense undercurrent. It’s not for show.

I hit the ground eating. The strangeness and deliciousness of the deep fried tempura fish paste; neither fishy not pasty. First-rate takoyaki, as it should be in a port town; grilled puffs of seasoned batter with a hunk of octopus in the middle, with sweeter and savoury sauces and seasonings scattered along the top. Takoyaki are of course a Japanese street food; part of a wide spectrum of Japanese cultural influences in Taiwan.

Finally, I demolish a greasy bag of tiny ‘one bite’ sausages for a few pence each, thrumming with hot porky goodness, raw garlic scattered alongside.

I can still taste them now. Of course, for me there is an element of exoticism, that Blade Runner mix of Chinese signs and neon and rain and food and so on. But I can feel the heat in my mouth and hear the noise of the market, and sense the slight ennui and the damp and the sea breeze. I can feel my tired feet walking back to the station and the chill of the boardwalk. I’m still there, if I want to be.


It’s abundantly clear that Taipei is a fully functioning city, at least if it’s judged by its mass transit system, which is abundant, clean, helpfully signed, and (crucially) with clean toilets in every single station. I am starting to judge ‘major world city’ status by this last metric. Can any city which doesn’t have usable toilets in every station be even classed as fully functioning? If you’ve ever tried to take an elderly relative on a day around London, you may have an answer to that question.

even the keeping people honest posters have a spiritual dimension

Of course, the immense Taipei metro system doubles up as an air raid shelter that can apparently hold the entire population of the city, just in case there is ever some kind of… incident. Clean toilets and exceptional food available all evening. That’s not much to ask, really, is it?

Oh sorry, yes… archery. It turns out to be well worth waiting for. The long day of finals on Sunday winds on into the senior competition in the evening, all broadcast in 8k virtual reality. The Schloessers stay calm and collected and take their wins. Mike’s opponent in the gold match, the 24 year-old Chen Chieh-Lin had put in a 149 in the 1/8 round, but seemed tense and nervous on the stage, and quickly fell away. Against a on-point Mike in full flow, there was no coming back. It got to the point where a single nine from Mike, barely outside the ring, drew a gasp from the audience. But it was barely even a blip.

Ten minutes later, Gaby takes the stage against Shilin Liu of Chinese Taipei, who had shot consistently if unremarkably to make the final. Schloesser, who had pounded the Dutch national record into smithereens in qualification, hadn’t dropped a match point until the semi, when she was pushed a little by Fan Wang-Ting of the host nation, who went on to take bronze.

With a loping, elegant draw, Liu stepped up to the plate, looking the least nervous of the host finalists by far. It wasn’t enough. Not even close. Schloesser(s) scorched earth again. Mike and Gaby, against jet lag and the best one of the biggest Asian archery nations can throw at them, have performed brilliantly. They both look exhausted. It’s tough at the top. And full marks to Wei Chun Heng. An inaugural champion, and a stand up guy.


The competition wrapped, I head off to Raohe night market, attached to the Songshan Ciyou temple, a Daoist landmark. To call temples in Taiwan ‘ornate’ is understating the issue somewhat; in what might be considered a competitive religious market, temples pile dragon upon dragon, turret upon roof, and wild detail upon all.

While the Ciyou temple is Daoist in focus, dedicated to the goddess Matsu, in practice most temples have a kind of syncretic approach combining Buddhism, Daoism, and Chinese folk religion. There is also a temple here dedicated to Confucius, in a country where Confucianism hovers between philosophy and religion. (Reading about the Three Teachings may be useful here). There are also syncretic creeds aiming to unite all.

In short, religious freedom has lent Taipei a colourful atmosphere, and contrasts sharply with mainland China, where the Cultural Revolution saw folk religion almost hounded out of existence.

It’s also an extraordinarily religious place overall. The whole country has 12,000 temples, with 700 in Taipei alone. As my very handy Insight Guides app tells me: “Traditional customs, beliefs, icons, and old superstitions permeate all levels of society in Taipei. Most adults – even those who may not profess a particular religion – routinely worship at a church or temple, and engage in spiritual activity.” That doesn’t include nearly 4000 Christian churches across the island as well.

It appears that communing with the divine in Taiwan has something of a pragmatic, transactional approach. You can visit a temple to ask a particular god for divine assistance, but you must express gratitude by lighting incense, burning paper money, and other offerings. You may also ask questions using jiaobei, or wooden ‘moon blocks’. Large bins of them are available in temples. The way the blocks fall, when thrown to the ground, will give you the answer you seek, or indicate the pleasure or displeasure of whoever you decided to ask. In the smoke and the gloom, you may find what you are looking for.

Barely steps from the temple door is Raohe Night Market, serving all who worship and all who seek answers. Crammed tightly down a narrow street, it’s a swirling riot of colour and smell and ringing bowls and gaudy midway barking. The will-I-or-won’t-I of a visit to the temple is mirrored here, with carnival games of chance; bagatelle, pachinko, for prizes or more. Fortune teller booths line each side; it seems to mostly be a profession for older gentlemen. You can go fishing. Buy clothes. Play games. Gamble. And eat all kinds of terrifying and wondrous food.

There’s a few things I want to try, but I head straight for the stall doing black pepper rolls. Several of the night market stalls have managed to make it into the no-doubt-utterly-insufferable Bib Gourmand, including this one. (Sixty bucks is about £1.60). It’s a bun, filled with lightly spiced pork and cooked in a tandoor-style oven.

The meat is interesting, softly spiced, but not the highlight. The miracle was the delicious bread which somehow managed to be soft, crisp and a bit flaky at the same time, with the lovely little burned bits that add something to a proper pizza crust. It’s meat and bread. But it’s somehow completely unique. I want to scoff twenty of them.

I’m used to cities, even though I don’t live in one anymore. I like to think I understand them. But there’s something markedly different about Taipei. For all its Western trappings, there seems to be something else; a sense of caring, of welcoming other influences, a sense of moving with the world rather than against it. Maybe that’s Daoism in action.


Monday is my last day. I want to wander, but many things are closed, and my legs and body are tired. I go to look at a few things, but eventually just decided to pause and sit at Xingtian Temple, one of the ‘new builds’ from the 1960s, and dedicated to some rather authoritarian-sounding god, which doesn’t sound very Daoist to me, but I’m new at this game. It’s now something I try to do in any new place; find a spot where something is happening, and just sit and listen and watch; be aware, absorb. Sit by the flow. Your thoughts wander. You try to bring them back.

For all the dragons and paint, the carvings and the incense, the temples are pretty simple buildings. This one, on a workday lunchtime, is fuller than any church in Britain or Europe that I’ve ever seen. It at least seems to celebrate the congregants rather than the landowners. Line up and be blessed. Rattle your jiaobei. Bow your head, together. Be part of it.

There is a book called Keeping Together In Time by the American historian William H McNeill, which argues that synchronised movement (and also singing) is a underappreciated force in human history; fostering cohesion amongst groups. You see it here, as you see it many places, the collective nod. I find myself joining in. I can’t not.

I also start thinking about archery. On the field, as in the temple, you join in together, and you wish for luck. That this time, you will bring the best of your ability. This time, the magic will not leave you. We all know that it is a sport in which you make your own luck, but the variance, especially at the very highest level, is the unkindest cut of all. It sometimes feels like you have upset a deity somewhere.

It’s always bloody archery, the sport that glaringly reflects your life back at you. You go through the ritual. You put on your robes, you make everything ready. You light the metaphorical incense. What are the bones going to reveal today? No wonder it is a sport for the God-fearing. Sometimes, the truth is just too hard.

Special thanks to Ting-Ni Chen for all her help.

In case you’ve ever wondered where Chinese Taipei is

10 May, 2019

Wei Chun Heng in action in Shanghai in 2015

At last year’s Berlin World Cup, Chinese Taipei took a major Korean tournament scalp when their men’s team beat the guys in white with a spectacular final ten from anchor Wei Chun Heng – a match-up repeated, with the same result, for far higher stakes at last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta. 

This year once again, in Shanghai, the boys in blue triumphed again over the boys in white – this time in a World Cup semifinal. The jewel in the Taipei crown used to be their recurve women’s team. Now, it’s looking like the men, singing aside

After following this sport for many years I can now hum the national anthem of the Republic of Korea on cue, but I had never heard the Chinese Taipei national anthem. It turned out to be serviceable, generic, and forgettable. Which is not that surprising, because ultimately it is a placeholder, or perhaps a kind of musical fig leaf. The anthem, the flag and the name ‘Chinese Taipei’ are all deliberately and carefully chosen to not quite mean anything at all.

The island of Taiwan as an independent entity became so after a civil war in China that raged in the late 1940s, and the mainland People’s Republic of China has never recognised the island, 110 miles off the coast, as a legitimate state. 

The history of relations could fill several books, but the PRC has maintained its ‘One China’ stance for many decades, and refuses to have diplomatic relations with any country that recognises the Republic Of China, aka Taiwan, as an independent state. You say Taiwan exists, its bye bye trade, travel and everything else from mainland China. Because of this very real (and frequently carried out) threat, Taiwan today is still not officially recognised as an independent nation by most countries in the world, apart from a handful of developing countries and the Vatican, for reasons you can delve into yourself. 

In practice, most developed nations maintain some kind of de facto diplomatic mission in Taiwan under the guise of a ‘trade federation’ or similar. An occasionally tense state of geopolitical equilibrium has developed, which appears to suit everyone in one way or another. 

Cross-strait relations even spilled into archery. The former FITA president Francesco Gnecchi-Ruscone recounts a cunning bit of politicking he had to do involving Taiwan and mainland China in the 1970s, which you can find on the World Archery website. But in 1979, a cultural breakthrough happened when the International Olympic Committee passed what is known as the Nagoya Resolution, which allowed Taiwan to participate in Olympic sport.

To do so under the name ‘Taiwan’ would invite political disaster. The name Chinese Taipei was carefully chosen and negotiated to be deliberately ambiguous, implying it could be part of mainland China, yet separate – but perhaps not subordinate. (Taipei City is the Taiwanese capital). The name only exists in English; helpfully, the word ‘Chinese’ can refer to nations or just culture. A similarly ambiguous flag was developed with the Olympic rings, and a forgotten tune – not the official national anthem of Taiwan – was recycled as a ‘flag anthem‘, with new words stridently praising Olympism.

In Taiwan itself, out of direct edict or national pride, you will never see the words ‘Chinese Taipei’. The archery team’s international achievements are well-publicised, and their newspapers loudly trump: ‘Taiwanese archers won a medal…’ ‘Taiwan triumphs at World Cup….’.

The subterfuge may be accepted, but it is rarely mentioned, at least not in their English-language press. Issues of nationalism and independence continue to bubble away on both sides of the strait, and may not be resolved for many decades yet, despite the occasional recent bit of sabre-rattling

I once asked a well-known member of the squad, via a translator, a roundabout question about what it was like to represent ‘Chinese Taipei’ and got a polite smile and a shake of the head ; unsurprisingly, there was absolutely zero chance of them talking about it.

For recurve archers, and many athletes, representing your country in the Olympics or another major tournament is the pinnacle of the sport. I don’t know what it feels like, when the current world number two team win and have to stand up in front of a flag and an anthem which represents a series of complicated, delicate political compromises, rather than themselves and whatever their sense of nationhood is. But I’d be interested to find out.

A version of this article originally appeared in Bow International magazine. 

Archery at the Asian Games – Day 6 (recurve finals)

29 September, 2014


After a tournament which briefly looked like it was veering dangerously away from the script followed by previous Asiads, the recurve finals finally delivered the hoped-for ‘Golden Sunday’ for the home nation.

After the shock semi-final defeat for the Korean men’s team on Friday – the first at an Asian Games for over thirty years – they had to suffer the relative indignity of fighting it out with Japan for the bronze medal, which they won 5 sets to 3. Japan came back in the third end to tie the score, but sent down two eights in the final end to hand the Korean men the bronze and a sliver of self-esteem.

The gold medal match was contested between China and Malaysia, who had unexpectedly beaten Japan to book their place here. It was a one-sided affair that saw the Chinese men comprehensively outscore their opponents to take gold.

“We hadn’t expected that we could win so fast,” said Yong Zhiwei. “But we believed in ourselves. We had faith in the team. Mu Yong, the manager of the Chinese archery team, said: “They showed no fear at all.”

In the women’s team event, Japan beat India for the bronze medal, capping a miserable week for India’s recurves who left the competition empty-handed after their compound teammates grabbed four medals yesterday and sent India into the overall top ten.

In the gold match, the pressure was weighing heavy on the Korean ladies to beat China – particularly after their last two finals ended in defeat, and the Chinese team had beaten them in competition as recently as June. In the end, they needn’t have worried. After three tense sets that saw the Chinese archers’ form fall away – they hit the ten ring just twice – the crowd roared and Korea had their precious recurve gold, with an emotional team bursting into tears afterwards. Lee Tuk-Young said afterwards: “There’s been some incredibly hard work over the last ten months, but I’m really glad to be part of history.” She also credited ‘elder sister’ Joo Hyun-Jung, who was unable to take part in the team event due to injury, as part of the team’s success “because our hearts beat as one”, in an elegant illustration of the particularly deep emotional bond between KAA teams.

The individual competition brought another Chinese medal, as Xu Jing took the bronze medal match from Japan’s Ren Hayakawa 7-3 after being 3-1 down after two ends. In the men’s bronze match, Kuo Cheng Wei of Chinese Taipei beat Hideki Kikuchi 6-2 to finish a relatively disappointing meet for Japan’s highly consistent recurvers, who would definitely have hoped for more. Japan, along with China, were also the only major archery nations not to send a compound squad.


The women’s individual field inevitably came down to the two Koreans in-form this year, and Jung Dasomi thumped Chang Hye-Jin 7-1 in a gold medal match that saw her miss the middle just twice in twelve arrows. She finished the job with a 10-10-10 end.

The men’s gold match saw the familiar hulking frame of Oh Jin-Hyek, the Olympic champion, take on the young Chinese athlete – and apparently, ‘ladies man‘ – Yong Zhiwei, who had already won a gold medal that morning in the team event. The crowd went silent as Yong raced out to a 4-0 lead, before his form slipped and Oh reeled off three straight sets to take the title, looking relieved after a final end that saw both archers wobble. Reading from the standard Korean sporting script, he said afterwards:  “I concentrated on my last shot, but I scored eight. I was fortunate to win a gold medal and I will continue to do well.”

In the end, there weren’t a great many surprises. Most of the medals went to the usual powerhouse nations, with some strong runs from Malaysia and the Philippines – plus a special mention to the quarter-final performance of men’s recurver Pak Yong-Won of the DPRK. The athletes delivered. For the home nation, the KAA pressure cooker had done its job and delivered the expected medals in their most important tournament apart from the Olympics. It remains to be seen if the KAA will continue to develop and maintain a high-level compound squad, and if the men’s performances will match the women’s in either discipline. The Asian nations have proved spectacularly strong on the international archery circuit this year, and on this outing, that looks set to continue for a long time to come.

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Watch the Korea v India women’s team semifinal here. 

Thanks to the dozens of news sources in many languages that helped me pull together these reports. 

Archery at the Asian Games – Day 5 (compound finals)

27 September, 2014

Pic via indianexpress.com

Pic via indianexpress.com

INCHEON, Korea:  The Indian squad had an extraordinary day in windy conditions on the Gyegang field, as the men’s compound team capped a highly successful day for India by clinching a historic gold medal, beating favourites Korea 227-225. Rajat Chauhan, Sandeep Kumar and Abhishek Verma shot consistently in the middle from the second arrow on, in a closely-fought contest that saw the hosts’ second shooter Min Li-Hong send down a 7 in the 4th end to sink the Korean boat. Afterwards, Chauhan said: “We have been noticing India’s position on the medals table every day and were determined to win the gold today. We are delighted to have done it.”

The team’s extensive preparation for the Asiad appears to have paid off, according to coach Rajan Singh: “We went to Salt Lake City in the USA and trained with Dee Wilde (father of Reo) for 15 days. Then we came and trained in Korea in different weather conditions at Gwangju here for a month before reaching here for the Games.” said Singh, a former junior national champion.  Abhishek Verma said: “I knew how to perform under pressure… We are all delighted to win the gold. We were not overawed by our opponents.”  Iran beat the Phillippines for the bronze medal.

Watch some footage of the team gold medal victory here (featuring some very rueful Korean faces). 

Pic via Yonhap News

Pic via Yonhap News

In the women’s team contest, strong favourites Korea finally took a gold medal, beating Chinese Taipei 229-226. The women’s team had already broken the world record for a team 24-arrow match earlier in the week, and didn’t miss the gold once. India easily beat Iran for the bronze. Afterwards, Choi Bomin pointed to the sky to dedicate the victory to former KAA youth coach Shin Hyeon-Jong who had recently passed away.

In the women’s individual compound, India’s Trisha Deb couldn’t keep her strong run going against Seok Ji-Hyun, but lucked out to beat Huang I Jou in the bronze medal match. Deb was trailing from the first end, but the Chinese Taipei athlete unexpectedly missed with her penultimate arrow in the last end to hand her victory.  The gold medal match was contested between Koreans Seok Ji-Hyun and Choi Bomin, turning into a dramatic contest which saw the lead swinging back and forth with Choi shooting the last end clean to win by just a single point, 144-143.

The men’s contest saw some less familiar names in an international archery final without the usual European and American stars. Iran has long been strong in compound archery and Esmaeil Ebadi took the lead from the second end to beat India’s Abhishek Verma 145-141 in both athletes’ second appearances of the day. The match was a re-run of the first Asian Grand Prix final from this year, also won by Ebadi.  The bronze medal went to Paul Marton De La Cruz of the Phillippines.

Two gold medals for Korea means that the women’s recurve team and Oh Jin-Hyek will both have to take gold tomorrow in order for the host nation to meet its stated target of “four to six” golds from the eight available. But today belonged to a superb Indian squad with a well deserved gold, silver and two bronze medals from the first compound programme at these Games.

The competition continues with the recurve finals tomorrow.

Archery at the Asian Games – Day 4

26 September, 2014

Pic via Yonhap news.

Pic via Yonhap news.


INCHEON, Korea. Recurve eliminations day on a rain-soaked Gyegang Asiad Archery Field, and the host nation was shocked by the defeat of the mighty Korean men’s team, beaten by the Chinese by 5 set points to 4 in the semi-final. In windier conditions than previous days, the match went to a shoot-off, where the teams tied on 29 points but the Chinese won by being closest to the centre.

The Korean men have won every Asian Games team gold for the last eight editions of the Games going all the way back to 1982; now they must fight it out for bronze with Japan on Sunday, who unexpectedly lost their semi-final 5-1 to a resurgent Malaysia. Afterwards, Oh Jin-Hyek described the tournament as “harder than the Olympics”.

The KAA was quick to defend the team. The Korean women’s national team coach, Ryu Su-Jeong said:  “Korean archery is still winning, but is becoming more difficult.” Joo Hyun-Jung added, “Gold isn’t something to be taken for granted.” It appears that making the national team might be becoming something of a poisoned chalice; with the staggering achievements of the past and the sky-high expectations making any falls from grace that much harder.


In the women’s team event, Korea cruised through to the gold medal match, despite Joo Hyun-Jung having to pull out of the squad with a rotator cuff injury and being replaced by Lee Tuk-Young. They beat Kazakhstan before crushing India in the semifinal, and will face China in the final on Saturday. Despite the usual dominant display, the pressure is firmly on, as the Korean ladies have lost two finals in a row –  to Japan in the Asian Grand Prix and to the same Chinese team at the World Cup in Antalya in June this year.  A disappointed India will face Japan for the bronze.

There was slightly better news for the Koreans in the individual finals, although Lee Seungyun unexpectedly fell to Yong Zhiwei of China in the quarter-finals by a single point. Most matches went to form, setting up some intriguing clashes for Sunday. In the recurve men, Kuo Cheng Wei of Chinese Taipei will face Oh Jin-Hyek of Korea, with Yong Zhiwei of China facing Hideki Kukuchi of Japan in the other semi. In the recurve women, Jung Dasomi of Korea will face Ren Hayakawa of Japan, while Xu Jing of China will face Chang Hye-Jin.

Deepika Kumari was thrashed in her quarterfinal by Diananda Choirunisa of Indonesia, to face the wrath of the Indian media after a low-key performance for the Indian recurve team.

The competition continues with the compound finals tomorrow.



Archery at the Asian Games – Day 3

25 September, 2014

Photo via segye.com


INCHEON, Korea: The compound team and individual eliminations were completed today, in the debut outing of the discipline at the 17th Asian Games. The women’s team of Seok Ji-Hyun, Choi Bomin and Kim Yun-Jee scored 238 points out of a possible 240 in the team’s quarter-final victory over Laos to break the world record of 236 points set by the USA team in 2011.

They then eased past Iran 229-222 in the semifinals and will shoot against Chinese Taipei for the gold medal this Saturday, with Iran and India contesting the bronze.

In the men’s team competition, India will face off against Korea in the gold medal match. Korea only just squeezed past the Phillippines in the semi-final, who will face Iran for the bronze. Afterwards, Choi Yong Hee said: I’m glad to be in the final, but we haven’t won it yet. You have to do your best without losing concentration till the end if you want to win the gold.”

The strong performances from the Indian squad continued as Abhishek Verma upset favourite Choi Yong Hee of Korea 147-142 in the individual quarter-final, shooting 12 10s in the process. Trisha Deb will also contest the individual semi-finals on Saturday.

Elsewhere, there was disappointment for the Iraqi squad as big medal hope and World Cup silver medallist Fatimah Almashhadani went out to Sri Ranti of Indonesia in the 1/16 eliminations. Her sister Rand is shooting in the recurve eliminations tomorrow.

I wrote earlier this year pondering if the Korean team intended to dominate compound archery as they do recurve archery, and it seems to be coming to pass. Korea took all recurve golds available in the last two Asian Games, and have stated they hope to win between four to six golds here from the eight available in recurve and compound. Senior coach Jang Yung-Sool said, in typical Korean style, “All our archers are in good form, but I have advised the athletes to avoid excessive excitement because there are more events to prepare for.”

Full results can be found here. The shoot continues with the recurve team and individual eliminations tomorrow.

Brief YouTube news piece about the world record here.

Early-doors picture of the Gyeyang Asiad Archery Field via Fivics Korea:

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Archery at the Asian Games – Day 2

24 September, 2014


Jung Dasomi (pic by Yonhap News)


INCHEON, Korea: The Asian Games recurve ranking rounds were completed today. Both men and women shot a two-day full FITA round to decide the ranking – a decision of the KAA which contrasts with the now normal 70m ranking round in World Archery sanctioned international competition.

The full results are here. No particular surprises as to who came top – the Korean men’s team qualified one-two-three-four with Lee Suengyun taking top honours with 1377.  Oh Jin-Hyuk and Ku Bonchan were tied for second place with 1362 points, but the Olympic champion advanced on total tens scored (although he shot less X’s).  This means that Oh and Lee will contest the individual competition, as the rules only allow for two per country per gender; all three will contest the team competition. Kim Woojin shot 1353, good enough for fourth place but not good enough to make either the team or the individual knockout stage.

In the women’s competition, a Korean one-two-three means Jung Dasomi and Chang Hye-Jin will advance to the individual competition with scores of 1364 and 1359. It appears they will be joined in the team event by “elder sister” Joo Hyun-Yung, who only qualified 13th but squeezes Lee Tuk-Young out of the team event on previous results under the complicated KAA rules. Jung Dasomi was sanguine about the system in place, which sees at least one team member squeezed out for good. “The individual result doesn’t matter. Whoever goes out there to fight (as the team), we will give it everything.”

The main challengers to the Koreans for medals here are China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and India, who all recorded top ten placings. Indian superstar Deepika Kumari placed a strong 8th, but the rest of the Indian women’s recurve team floundered and the team only managed fifth place. Top Malaysian pro and World Cup medallist Khairul Anuar Mohamad managed a strong sixth place in the men’s competition.

The compound individual and team eliminations start tomorrow, just after midnight here in Europe.  There have already been controversies over the venue, but now there are further fears about the weather disrupting the competition, with Typhoon Fung-Wong battering parts of the east Asian coast and currently approaching south Korea. According to the organisers, the competition will go ahead unless “the target cannot be seen or the target is knocked over by wind and rain.” [waahh! – Ed]  Although Chang Hye-Jin was noticably bullish about the situation after the ranking round: “I hope the wind blows harder tomorrow.” she said.