It’s still too damn hot. For anyone. Or anything. Super Thursday perhaps brought less in the way of shocks, and even in the humidity, everyone’s bow stayed in one piece. The biggest story of the day was Oh Jin Hyek, the beast of Korean men’s archery, going out to Atanu Das in a five set thriller and shootoff, where Oh’s nine was met with Atanu’s merciless X. With Das used to performing at the top level, and with plenty of individual experience this year; perhaps this wasn’t the biggest shock ever experienced. It leaves just Kim Woojin left of the Korean men in contention for the title, who will face world silver medallist Khairul Mohamad of Malaysia, the dangerman’s dangerman. Woojin has wandered here and there in big matches in the past few years, and we all remember what happened in Rio. Oh was blasé afterwards, and surprisingly, refused to rule out ether retirement or an appearance at the World Championships in Yankton later this year.
Mete Gazoz didn’t have too much trouble getting to the last 16 (joining compatriot Yasemin Anagoz) and Taylor Worth, of Australia, follows up an individual quarterfinals appearance in Rio with another last 16 placing here in Tokyo. Worth has previously stated that he turns it on in matchplay rather more than qualifying; and he seems to have proved that once again, with some top-drawer shooting.
Jacob Wukie of the USA came through his first match and a tougher shootoff against Riau Salsabilla to leave the USA the only nation with two archers in the mens final 16. However, they won’t have two in there for long, as he has to face Brady Ellison in the last match of the next round on Saturday. It remains to be seen if there will be be a repeat of the ‘no coaches on stage’ decision when Brady and Zach Garrett faced each other in Rio.
The last bracket of the day saw some more interesting action; as Kazakhstan’s Ilfat Abdullin, who made a couple of notable runs a few years ago, especially at the Asian Games, find some form and eliminate GBR’s James Woodgate and then the sixth seed, Steve Wijler. Ilfat’s classical technique is a joy to watch being executed, even if his bow arm appeared to be shaking just a little. A fixture with China’s Li Jialun beckons on Friday. (Ilfat was apparently seen after his match going straight back out to the practice field and shooting blank bale. That’s some dedication.)
Lisa Barbelin of France saved the best for last in her match against Tatiana Andreoli of Italy, taking out the Italian in an exuberant display of confident shooting. It boded well for her match against Alejandra Valencia tomorrow, where she will likely need to dominate to get through.
Ane Marcelle of Brazil then pushed out Ana Vasquez in the battle of the middle seeds, and then shot well against An San of Korea, taking a point and putting up some serious resistance. An, the number one seed, looked relieved to have got through her two matches. Her first, against bottom of the shop Marlyse Hortou of Chad, looked like it actually scared her just a little. Hortou, resident at the World Archery Excellence Centre, opened with a 28 and took the first set, as alarm spread across An’s face.
It eventually went the way it was expected to go, although Hortou’s subsequent ends of 23, 26 and 22 were better than many that had gone in over the past few days. If she could have qualified a little higher, you get the feeling she could have taken a scalp or two today. An San’s pace, timing and accuracy were still there, but this evening they came with a sense that she is not indestructible, and that an experienced matchplay performer might just take her down.
Finally, Ksenia Perova is once again at the business end of a major tournament. What is there to say? She is criticised across the field for her technique, but no-one can deny its efficiacy, or her ability to somehow come back to the middle. She is an immovable object; and beating the 2017 World Champion as ever, will require an irresistible force. She is up against Deepika Kumari tomorrow, who has so far not really shown what she is capable of; even if perhaps she hasn’t really needed to. Tomorrow might be an extraordinary day. Set your alarm clocks.
The competition continues tomorrow with the women’s individual finals.
Some pics courtesy World Archery.