Returning world champion Lee Seungyun happy in role as third on Korean team
He resurfaced only to win individual, mixed team and team competitions at the Universiade in 2017.
It’s been three years since he was last a part of the Korean top team – but in Medellin, at the opening stage of the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup, he’s back.
“I can’t believe it’s been three years,” said Lee, laughing. “Ever since I left the national team, I’ve just been so busy… I’ve been focusing more on my family rather than training.”
Soon after collecting his team gold medal at the Olympics, where Korea swept the titles, Lee became a father. He, understandably, took some time off to raise his child.
But he never stopped training completely – and still worked with his club team.
“Without even working all that hard in my individual training, there are just so many competitions and stages for our national team trials, that I think I just automatically ended up working hard because I had to prepare for these competitions,” he said.
Lee finished third in Korea’s trials for 2019, behind long-time teammate Kim Woojin and wonder kid Lee Woo Seok. Those three were chosen to compete at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch this summer, and a number of Hyundai Archery World Cup events across the season.
It’s six years since Seungyun won the world championships. A grand return, and return to the title on the cards?
“I haven’t been able to return to the level of competitiveness that I used to be at,” he admitted. “And since my teammates are so strong, I’m a bit worried if I will be able to keep up. Rather than doing well, or something like that, I’m more focused on being a valuable third member of the team.”
It’s an astonishing admission from someone who is likely to take to the finals arena sooner or later during the course of the season.
But then Seungyun hasn’t always gone with the grain. In his own words, even his shooting style is not from the normal mould.
“Korea has certain guidelines for archery technique, but I’m actually the archer who has deviated from that guideline the most,” he explained. “People often tell me I’m able to control the bow well despite having such unique form.”
Returning to international competition has meant seeing old friends. Lee’s looking forward to enjoying being back on the circuit this season.
The Korean line-up this year makes for formidable reading on paper. Three world titles between them – Woojin has two – and a young talent in Woo Seok who has already risen to the top of the world ranking.
“He’s a great archer and is great in competitions. [The next world champion] is hard to predict, but I think it will be Lee Woo Seok. I think he’ll do a great job,” said Lee.
Seungyun won the recurve men’s title in Medellin in 2014 when the Korean squad first visited the Colombian city. Five years later, we’re glad to have him back.
Competition at the first stage of the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Medellin, Colombia runs until Sunday 28 April.