Olympics Day 0: Archers Get Aiming Before Opening Ceremony

*As always a short bullet point summary of the days action, things to consider and look out for as well as my thoughts will be at the bottom of this post if you do not have the time to read through a summary of each event.*

The first official day of the Olympics is here or as the organisers like to call it Day Zero as yesterday and the day before were Day Minus One and Day Minus Two. Although all events that happen today, archery ranking rounds and equestrian inspections, are still before the evenings opening ceremony they have hardly been accepted into the broadcasting schedules with open arms.

Archery

*round up of events is provided in the last few paragraphs after explaining archery and the process in a bit of detail*

The BBC decided that, despite a free schedule on the Red Button and online, the first day archery and equestrian competitions were not worthy of being shown. As a result trying to find somewhere online to watch it was a lot more challenging than I expected and after 45 minutes of searching no stream, official or *ahem* dodgy, had found its way to my screen.

Trying to keep track of the competition online was also a bit of a struggle as the World Archery website was rather bare bones without clicking on every single athlete participating individually to see their score for each round. Basically it proved a nightmare.

And you might be wondering why I care so much about something as simple as archery. Well I used to do archery and have all the stuff to do it hidden somewhere at one of my parents house. I understand archery and I love watching it. So not only am I narked from a coverage point of view I’m also upset on a personal level. It will be available to watch tomorrow but I wanted to watch the first stages live to get a feel for who is in form and producing fantastic result round after round. 

So the first day of action seen individual men and women as well as gendered men and women teams looking to set their mark for the recurve events.

The archery in the Olympics is called recurve for a couple of reasons. The first being the shape of the bow and the way that it goes from being curved one way to bending around the other when the string is pulled back from resting. The second is because it must have a sight on it. A sight helps the archer to focus on a particular spot as it acts like a little magnifying glass and to figure out where to aim to counteract the wind. As you will see throughout the competition this does not mean people get solid tens it just helps to ensure they hit the target a massive 70m away.

To enter the Olympics you MUST use a sight otherwise your bow is defined as barebow rather than recurve (in World Archery this has a different ranking system because it is naturally a lot more difficult to aim for the centre spot 70m away without a little magnifying glass in front of you. 

If you need an idea of what a target looks like at 70m get a thumbtack, one of the round ended ones you might put in a cork noticeboard, and put it out away from the side of your body at arms reach. Then turn your head towards it and close one eye (otherwise trying to look through a sight is a little tricky). And that is pretty much what it looks like. Sounds a lot trickier than it looks eh?

Another thing to look out for is the sound of the bow string catching on something. That is likely to be the archers arm that is in front of them and generally this is a lot more common in female competition because of the “woman’s elbow” (seriously you couldn’t make it up). For example I have to go out of my way to twist my elbow and arm to a different angle otherwise it catches me and even goes under my arm guard and I have the scars to prove it..

At this stage in the competition the archers are simply drtermining their ranking for the competition. The highest scorer goes in as number one seed and the lowest ranked enters as the 64th seed. Nobody gets knocked out in this initial round but it can determine how easy your ride will be in the head to head matches as the competition progresses so putting in a strong performance is key.

Archers that take part in the individual competition are also part of the team group for their gender so as each individual event is completed the scores are added together and teams are seeded in a much similar way. Of course not all countries that have an individual archer have enough members to make up a full team and the amount of countries participating therefore is much smaller. For the group competition the top four qualifying teams are automatically put through to the second round whilst 5th to 12th compete to become their competitors.

It is a real shame that nowhere in the world seemed to have access to video of the live event because Woojin Kim of South Korea got a new World Record, 700 points out of 720, in the Recurve Men qualifying stages showing him to be on fine form and a real contender for the gold medal. Getting that world record put him first in the rankings meaning he will face 64th place finishers Zimbabwe’s Gavin Sutherland.

Other matches to watch out for in the men’s recurve first official round include Ali El Ghrari who finished 63rd in the ranking round against 2nd place American Brady Ellison. Ellison is expected to get through the first round easily and is expected to make it much nearer to the final stages.

The South Korean individual performances put them 1st in the men’s team recurve event ahead of the USA and Italy. Malaysia came through as 12th, and therefore lowest ranked, place qualifiers. The host nation Brazil will be hoping that they can progress to the next round but after being ranked 11th they will have to compete against a very good Chinese team in the 1st round.

The South Korean women also proved dominant in the individual rankings, coming first, second and third to give them top spot in the team event with Misun Choi leading the way with 669 points out of 720. Thanks to their performance they go through automatically to the 2nd round and the group competition. 

The first proper rounds of the archery competition start tomorrow and are largely available on the BBC Red Button (or other broadcasters outside the UK).

Equestrian

To help ensure that horses are well enough to compete at the Olympics they must all undergo several inspections before competing. This helps to make sure that horses do not suffer serious injuries and that riders are protected too. A similar process is carried our before all horse related competitions but at the Olympics, when the world is watching, it is especially important (also given the distance some of these horses will have travelled and how they might not be used to the sort of weather in Brazil).

Therefore, just before the opening ceremony, members hoping to take part in the Eventing Individual competition took their horses along to the first inspection of the games.

Members of the same country go up together to have their horses inspected. Some swiftly get accepted whilst others are mulled over and some are even sent away for a while for further inspection or consideration. For some competitors this may well be the most nerve wrecking part of the entire Olympics.

Despite some horses being told to “jog” around the area all was going well with horses from many nations being accepted as fit and that they may compete. There was a moment when it looked like one horse may fail to make it through the inspection as Spanish horse, Hito CP, was sent to the holding area but after discussion he too was confirmed as a competitor.

With all the horses having an initial clean bill of health riders and teams will be looking forward to getting on with the competition and showing what they are capable off.

Overall Summary

  • Brazil will be nervous about the 1st round of the men’s and women’s group recurve events as they both qualified in 11th meaning the men will face China and the Women will compete against Italy.
  • Italy are aiming to retain their 2012 men’s team recurve title and after ranking 3rd with just over 2000 points, putting them straight into the second round, they are that little bit closer.
  • South Korean Woojin Kim got an individual recurve world record of 700 points out of 720 in the ranking stages of the competition. The South Korean team are looking like the ones to beat in both the men’s and women’s individual and group competitions.
  • Great Britain’s Patrick Huston finished 38th in the men’s individual recurve meaning he faces 27th place finisher Rick Van Der Ven from The Netherlands. Whilst Naomi Folkard finished 23rd in the women’s individual recurve ranking meaning they will face 42nd Indonesia’s Ika Rochmawati in the 1st round.
  • All horses were passed fit and well enough to compete at the first inspection stage of the individual equestrian events.

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