Korean archers, ancient history provide focus
Posted: Wednesday August 4, 2004 9:21PM; Updated: Wednesday August 4, 2004 9:21PM
LONDON, Aug 5 (Reuters) -- South Korea's women archers, unbeaten in team or individual competitions since 1984, are aiming for a perfect 10 in Athens where the archery competition will take place in a stadium built in the fourth century BC.
Stressing the ancient roots of archery is central to the sport's attempts to preserve its Olympic foothold -- archery was re-introduced only in 1972 and the format of the competition has undergone numerous changes to make it more televisual.
The white marble Panathinaiko Stadium, setting of the first modern Olympics in 1896, will provide a superb backdrop for the tournament and once again Korea's extraordinary women archers will be the focus of attention.
They made their debut at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 and have swept every title since then, a total of nine golds after a team competition was introduced in 1988 at their home Olympics in Seoul.
There are few signs that the Korean run is going to be broken in Athens -- reigning Olympic and world champion Yun Mi-Jin leads the world rankings and won the individual event at the Athens test event last August with compatriot Park Sung-Hyun second.
Yun led Korea to the team titles in the world championships and the test event. She is only the second archer behind Sydney team mate Kim Soo Nyung to hold both world and Olympic titles at the same time.
Not to be outdone, Korea's men are also taking root at the top of the rankings.
Their team are reigning world and Olympic champions, and Lim Dong-Hyun, 17 at the time, won the Athens test event with fellow Korean Park Kyung-Mo second.
Italy have good medal hopes in both the men's and women's individual competition with Michele Frangilli, the 2003 men's world champion, and Moldovan-born Natalia Valeeva.
Valeeva was world champion in 1995 for Moldova and won two bronze medals for the Unified team at the 1992 Olympics. She moved to Italy to marry and has a young son.
Frangilli has won a medal at each of the last two Olympics and needs a gold in Athens to complete the set.
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