Korean archery rising star An San targets Tokyo 2020 after test event gold

The 18-year-old South Korean won the 'Ready Steady Tokyo' test event at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field.

By Shintaro Kano

18-year-old South Korean An San gave herself a jolt of confidence for next summer by winning the women’s individual gold medal on Wednesday (17 July) at the Ready Steady Tokyo test event for the 2020 Olympic Games.

The event's second seed, who only made her international debut earlier this month at the World Cup in Berlin (which she also won), defeated Deepika Kumari of India in straight sets at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field.

San An in action in the semifinal during the Ready Steady Tokyo - Archery Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event.

“It was a bit difficult for me in the early days because we had rainy days but today we did not have any rain on the field,” An said as the sun finally came out after days of downpour since the event kicked off on 11 July.

“For the next year, I’m looking forward to having big stands and a lot of spectators, a big crowd. I’m excited.”

An, ranked 30th in the world, eliminated countrywoman and Rio 2016 gold medallist Chang Hye Jin in the quarter-finals also in straight sets before reaching the final with a 7-1 victory over world No. 2 Tan Ya-ting of Chinese Taipei.

Tan wound up with the bronze after coming from behind to beat China’s Zheng Yichai 7-3.

An, who admitted to being fatigued after arriving in Tokyo on the heels of Berlin, shone brightly on this day but was undeservingly modest about her chances for Tokyo 2020.

“At the beginning here in Tokyo, I wasn’t very fit because I came here just after the Berlin World Cup,” she said. “I was a bit tired from that but as time went by, I felt better and better. For the final matches, I was recovered by then.

“At this moment, I’m not sure if I’ll make the national team for the Olympic Games next year. But I’m happy that I could shoot here at an Olympic venue for next year.

“Hopefully, I will do my best for the days that are left for the Olympic Games and be here again at this venue, for the gold medal.”

Deepika Kumari, San An and Ya-Ting Tan pose during the medal ceremony of the Ready Steady Tokyo - Archery, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event.

An wasn’t the only one hoping to use this test event as a springboard for Tokyo’s second Olympic Games.

Kumari, who shot well in the semi-final against Zheng with scores of 29, 29, 30 but was slightly off the mark in the final, said Yumenoshima reminds her of the training grounds back home and that having done well at the venue has lifted her hopes for next year’s Games.

Now she just has to help India qualify for Tokyo 2020

“The boys they qualified – but we have to qualify for next year. I’m confident, our team is confident,” Kumari said.

“The venue is very good. I like the venue because it’s similar to India and the place I train, the weather is the same. I came here for the second time, it’s a very nice country. We didn’t qualify yet so our priority is to qualify and we’ll think about the rest.

“We’ve seen the venue so this gives us confidence to qualify for the Olympics next year.”

Ready Steady Tokyo at Yumenoshima ends on Thursday (18 July) with the men’s individual competition.