RIO DE JANEIRO >> One of the South Korean archers had a perfect response for a nearly flawless show.
“We shoot always like this,” Lee Seungyun said through a translator. “It’s Korea.”
Even for the archery powerhouse, though, this was some kind of shooting display. The South Koreans captured gold by placing 15 of its 18 arrows in the top scoring ring to knock off the Americans, 6-0, in the men’s team final Saturday at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The U.S. took home silver for a second straight Olympics, while Australia beat China in the bronze-medal match.
Still, the buzz was all about the clinic put on by Kim Woojin, Ku Bonchan and Lee. It was so impressive that American archer Jake Kaminski went over to the South Korean squad after the match and simply bowed.
Nothing else needed to be said as South Korea earned its fifth Olympic title in the men’s team event.
“We just got outclassed,” said Kaminski, whose team beat Indonesia and China to reach the final. “A match like that has never been shot before. That would’ve been a world record if world records still existed in this format. We shot well and just got beat.”
Kim picked up right where he left off a day after setting a recurve world record in qualifying. He scored a 10 on five of his six shots in the final. Ku was even more precise — 6 for 6.
“I didn’t know that I had a perfect score,” said Ku, whose squad knocked off the Netherlands and Australia to make the final. “During the match, I only focus on each individual shot. I was very happy.”
That pep talk from Kim really did the trick. Before the match — and during it, too — Kim called his team together for some simple advice: Trust, be confident and shoot straight.
It hit the mark.
“I don’t know why or how they can make all these 10s,” Mauro Nespoli said earlier in the day after his defending Olympic champion Italian squad was eliminated by China in the quarterfinals. “When I find the answer, maybe I’ll go up to them.”
In this team format, the three archers on a squad each shoot one arrow, followed by the next team. They each do that again to complete what’s called a set. The winner of the set receives two points and the first one to five wins the match.
In the opening set, the South Korean contingent scored a 10 on all six of their shots. They nearly did the same in the third and closing set as well.
“They shot amazing,” Ellison said. “I mean, that was once again a world-record performance they just put on. You’re not going to see three-set scoring that high probably ever again.”
Kaminski and Ellison were on the American squad that lost the gold to Italy four years ago in London. This time, they didn’t feel like they lost it. Those two, along with Zach Garrett, scored a 10 on 10 of their 18 arrows.
“It’s a little different walking off the field, knowing we just won silver compared to you just lost gold,” Ellison explained. “It’s not like any of them really messed up.”
The Americans were hoping for a little more wind. Maybe that would’ve thrown off the South Koreans. But a breeze hardly even moved the wind flag at the Sambadrome as a group of robust South Korean fans rooted on their nation.
“It’s hard to beat Korea on a perfectly calm day,” Ellison said. “They’re good, they’re strong. A wind comes in it helps us out, because no matter where you go in the U.S., it’s windy. That’s what we’re used to. We’re not used to this calm stuff.”
The South Koreans were the picture of serenity.
“We trusted each other, and it happened,” Kim said. “This was teamwork. Everyone did good.”
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