With historic Copenhagen as the venue, the 2015 World Championships in the heart of Denmark are forecast to be the best attended yet. At the time of writing, 623 archers from 96 national federations had been entered into the championships, with the men’s recurve category breaking the 200-competitor mark for the first time at any World Archery event, with 229 athletes vying for the three medals. World Archery has also revealed that 63 men’s recurve and 43 women’s recurve teams will begin fighting for just eight Olympic team spots, as this event will be the first chance for nations to secure places at the Rio 2016 Games.
We’ve scoped out the world rankings, performances so far this year, and past achievements to come up with our list of who we reckon could be ones to watch at the up-coming shootout. However, the World Championships is a competition with a history of throwing up some surprises when it comes to the results, so it could be anybody’s game …
Big team players Denmark will be looking for a result on their home turf: their men’s compound team scooped gold two years ago, and have made it to medal matches in both stages of the world cup held so far this year. Individually impressive, World Cup winner Martin Damsbo, three-time youth world champion Stephan Hansen and World Cup stage winner Patrick Laursen will be formidable opponents, but they’re not the only big fish in the men’s compound pool. The USA has an incredible depth in their squad, with multiple world record holders, World Championship, World Cup – outdoor and indoor – and World Field medalists to choose from. The fight for places on that team was always going to be tough, but it was Braden Gellenthien and Reo Wilde – who have multiple World Championship and World Cup successes between them – that took the two top places, and recent Vegas shoot champion Alex Wiffler the clinched the third.
European champions from the Netherlands Peter Elzinga, ‘Mr Perfect’ Mike Schloesser, and Ruben Bleyendaal are also strong contenders, both as a trio and individually. Schloesser will be out to defend his individual title, and after setting two world records and getting to two gold medal matches in 2015 already, not many people would bet against him being able to successfully repeat his championship win of two years ago. The two men that beat him to the gold medal on the World Cup tour are Sebastien Peineau of France and Kim Jongho of Korea, and both will be looking to capitalise on their good starts to the season.
Peineau’s teammate and former world number one Pierre-Julien Deloche lost out in the World Champs gold medal final to Schloesser two years ago, and has been on consistently good form ever since. Indoor World Champion Sergio Pagni will be looking to see if he can add the outdoor title to that, and is the current holder of the compound mixed team title alongside Marcella Tonioli.
Iran and India are teams to keep an eye on too – they haven’t always been consistent finalists in the men’s compound competition, but both teams climbed the podium at the first stage of the World Cup and could be outside contenders for causing some upsets through the rounds.
Adam Ravenscroft, Duncan Busby and Mark Rudd will be out in Copenhagen for Great Britain, and other shooters to look out for include Alexander Dambaev of Russia, and Demir Elmaagacli of Turkey, both of whom have been known to upset higher seeds in World Cup competition.
The last women’s compound world champion Kristina Heigenhauser (then Berger) was the strongest in the wind on her way to the top of the podium in Antlaya, and she’s proved her consistency in the two years since, maintaining a place in the world’s top 10 going into Copenhagen. Two-time world champ Albina Loginova of Russia is also up there, having netted several World Cup medals and a place at the finals in the years since she last became world champion in 2011. Look out for Loginova’s Russian teammates too – Natalia Avdeeva climbed the podium at the 2014 World Cup Finals after beating Slovenia’s Toja Cerne to bronze, and Russia have been successful as a team both indoors and out.
Toja Cerne herself will be one to watch – she’s picked up a World Field title and a place in the World Cup Finals – as will Fatimah Almashhadani of Iraq. Almashhadani won Iraq’s first compound cadet gold at the Youth World Championships in Yankton earlier this year. That’s not her only success through, as she reached the final of the Antalya stage of the World cup in 2014 aged just 16, and has a silver from the European Grand Prix.
Mexico has a team of compound archers capable of taking home some silverware, with Linda Ochoa and Stephanie Salinas occupying spots in the top 10 world ranks, picking up silver and bronze respectively at the Shanghai stage of the World Cup, and Salinas picking up a second bronze at the Antalya stage just a few weeks later. Colombia are another team to watch in this division; world-record holder and world number one Sara Lopez has already taken a gold medal in a World Cup stage this year, hot off the back of taking the Finals crown in Lausanne last year. She will be looking to build on that success and is likely to be one of the event favourites if her good form continues. She’ll be backed up by a strong team too – winners of the last World Championships, Colombia, are also the number-one ranked team ahead of Russia and the USA.
Naomi “Giant Killer” Jones, two-time Paralympic gold medallist Danielle Brown and Lucy O’Sullivan are also a formidable team to look out for. Hailing from Great Britain, these three have all proven themselves individually on the international stage and can pose a significant podium threat.
The United States team are also one to look out for – headed up by the experienced Jamie Van Natta. There isn’t much this veteran of Team USA hasn’t won already, having picked up podiums at World Championships, World Cup, and World Field events over her long and distinguished career. She’ll be shooting alongside Crystal Gauvin and Lexi Keller, who are both coming off the back of excellent indoor seasons.
Team USA beat Korea to the gold medal match in the final of the last World championships, and both are expected to field strong teams again this year. Both nations have a significant pool of talent to choose from, and can mix emerging performers with established international pros for an effective team assault on the competition. Three-time World Cup Finals winner Brady Ellison will be leading two younger competitors in Zach Garrett and Collin Klimitchek for the USA, and the team’s relatively early selection means they will have had plenty of time to train together before the event. Korea has two previous world champions in Kim Woojin and Lee Seyungyun to choose from, with Oh Jin Hyek a World Championships silver medalist individually and of course the reigning Olympic Champion, who has also seeing action for Korea on the World Cup and indoor circuits earlier this year.
However, on the team front in Antalya two years ago it was France that put a stop to Korea’s hope for a medal, clinching the bronze with a final 10 to win the match by a point. They could well be a team to feature again in these championships, with their most experienced senior archer on the team Jean-Charles Valladont already a world champion in the field discipline.
The Netherlands are another team to look out for on the men’s recurve side, with Rick Van der Ven stepping onto the podium at last year’s World Cup Final, and Sjef Van den Berg taking the silver at the recent European Games. As a team they beat France to European Games bronze, and Youth World Championships silver medalist Jan Van Tongeren joins Van der Ven and Van den Berg for the team event in Copenhagen. The Netherlands missed out on a team spot for London 2012, so they’ll be looking for a good finish here to boost their chances of getting into the Rio games. Additionally, Spain appear to be on the rise – a silver for the men’s team and individual gold for Miguel Alvarino at Baku will have boosted their confidence, and they could cause an upset to some more established teams.
After taking gold in both the Indoor World Championships and European Games, Ukraine’s Viktor Ruban, Markiyan Ivashko and Heorhiy Ivanytskyy have proved they can pose a threat, and Italy’s Mauro Nespoli has been having a good couple of years too – even though he might not have made as many medal matches as some, he’s been putting in consistent performances and the world Championships could be his event.
The team from Great Britain is composed of Patrick Huston, Ashe Morgan and Kieran Slater, and while only Morgan has been to a World Championships before, Huston has won two golds in the individual and mixed team events at Youth World Championships before, so he’s no stranger to getting results on the international stage.
Riau Ega Agatha of Indonesia caused an upset in the Shanghai stage of this year’s World Cup, taking individual bronze as well as a team bronze in men’s recurve, and if he can repeat that kind of performance he could well be a top-finisher. Marcus D’Almeida, Brazil’s big hope for the Rio Olympics World Youth Champion and silver medalist at the World Cup Finals at only 16 years of age will also be one to keep an eye on – he has already shown he can handle himself in high-pressure situations against more experienced senior opposition.
Reigning recurve women’s champion Maja Jager will be hoping to follow up her win in Antalya in 2013 with a similar performance in front of a home crowd. Having picked up silver at the European Games, she’s proved she still has what it takes to medal, but she’ll be up against some stiff competition. Germany’s women have each picked up international medals since the last World Champs, with Karina Winter taking gold ahead of Jager in Baku, and Lisa Unruh and Elena Richter both making it to the grand finals of the World Cup last year. Other European shooters to look out for include European champion Tatiana Segina, and Alicia Marin of Spain, who picked up bronze at the European Championships last year, and bronze at the European Games this year, so can her successes on European soil translate to a world event?
Korea will, as always, be a significant threat in this division, with a line-up that includes Olympic champion and recent world-record setter Ki Bo Bae and some new faces that have nevertheless made an impact on the World Cup; Kang “The Destroyer” Chae Young and Choi Misun picked up gold and silver respectively at the World Cup opening stage in Shanghai, in their first year in the international senior team, with Ki making it a Korean clean sweep of the podium.
China are another team travelling over from Asia that could be ones to watch – Xu Jing and Cheng Ming both climbed the podium at the 2014 World Cup finals, but the Chinese federation is no stranger to rotating its teams and we could see some alternative members of China’s squad picked to compete in Copenhagen. Chinese Taipei, too, could pose a threat: Lin Shih-Chia made it to the final eight of the Antalya World Cup stage this year, while Tan Ya-Ting has climbed the podium at world level before, and will be defending her mixed-team bronze from two years ago.
World Cup 2014 winner and Indoor World Champion Aida Roman will be on the hunt for the outdoor title to match, and has enjoyed success in the mixed team event competition over the years too – losing out on bronze in Antalya last time to Tan Ya-Ting and her teammate Kuo Cheng-Wei. Deepika Kumari is another archer with the potential to collect medals here, the Indian archer back on form after a tough couple of years and looking to expand her medal collection.
Watch out for Belarus on the women’s team front: two years ago they picked up World Championship silver in a final against Korea, they made it to the medal matches at the Indoor World Championships in Nîmes early last year, just losing out to Poland on a shoot-off, and most recently they picked up a silver at the European Games. Belarus has not had an archer medal in the individual competition for a while, but they appear to be strong team shooters on the big occasions and could be ones to keep an eye out for. Ukraine, too, have had a stronger team than individual presence in recent top-level shoots, picking up gold at the indoor worlds and bronze at the European games.
Italy put in a strong show at Baku as well, winning the women’s team and mixed team events. The vastly experienced Natalia Valeeva was instrumental in both victories, and was part of the Italian team that medalled at the World Championships four years ago. Three-time Olympian, World Field medalist and World Games champion Naomi Folkard will be joined by Amy Oliver, who has picked up a mixed team medal at a World Championships before, and Nicky Hunt, former World number one in the compound division before switching to recurve.