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The Archery World Continues to Move Toward Tokyo 2020- in 2021.

With the official announcement of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and the cancellation of the entire beginning of the 2020 outdoor season through the end of June, athletes, coaches, fans, supporters and staff around the world are re-setting plans and expectations, and coming to terms with the new reality.

As we know now, the decision was made for the right reasons; first, to prioritize global health and safety and, second, to ensure a level playing field for all. The disruption to training schedules, events and trials processes in many countries meant that many Olympians would not be fully prepared to compete in July 2020.

Fortunately, the Olympic Flame will continue to burn in Japan, and the Games will go on to provide a bright light at the end of the dark and confusing time of the global pandemic.

Top level athletes and trainers around the world are a part of that global reset.

3x Olympic Medalist, current World Champion, World No. 1 and the indoor and outdoor world record holder, Brady Ellison was seen as a strong contender for medals this summer. Ellison began 2020 with the first ever perfect Vegas 900 shot with a recurve, calling it the greatest accomplishment of his archery career. But like everyone else, even the world’s #1 shooter has found his plans affected by the pandemic.

On the day the official postponement of the Games was announced, Ellison said “The Games being postponed is devastating, but it’s also an opportunity to have one more year to get even better. I am shooting my best ever right now and really know I had my greatest chance yet at winning gold this year. Now I just have to keep pushing and get even better than I am now.

“There are no limits to the height one can achieve when backed into a corner; the only way out is to fight and overcome. It’s now even more important to train hard and to win every event that we can shoot.

“My heart goes out to all the athletes who prepared for this year as their last run or took all the vacation and time to try and make a run at this Olympics that may no longer be able, and their Olympic dreams are done without even having the opportunity.

“With the news of the postponement, we don’t have to stress about putting ourselves and our health at risk to train and now everyone can focus on what’s important: family and staying safe and getting rid of this virus ASAP. Everyone needs to do their part in this. I am self-quarantined at my house in Arizona and am fortunate enough that I have my own range and can keep my performance up. For everyone who can’t go shoot, well, the power of the mind and never missing may be more powerful than actually training.”

2012 Olympic Champion Oh Jin Hyek of Korea is another shooter who has been given a significant impact from the change.

Oh, 39 years of age, the first-ever Korean man to win the Olympic Games archery event, had been planning to retire after Tokyo 2020, on the advice of physicians. He has been battling a shoulder injury for the best part of a decade, but now he still has his sights set on a grand finale to an international career spanning more than 20 years. At the time of the postponement announcement, Oh was a leading contender to make the 2020 Olympic Team for Korea. Accordingly, he has now placed his retirement plan on hold.

“I was thinking about my retirement at the end of this competition but now the time will be delayed, I prepared my mind to accept that reality this morning and start again – and found I had the energy to do so.”

“I have a problem. I suffered a right shoulder injury before the London Olympics, and the pain has worsened with age. I hope my body will hold for another year. In addition, I plan to increase the weight-increasing exercises, such as weight training, that have been reduced to match the stage of the Olympic finals. “I think it’s good to have time to compensate for the shortcomings in terms of technology and to treat shoulder injuries,” he said. “Some archery athletes training together in the athletes’ village heard the news of the Olympic acting and collapsed, but the majority say ‘let’s prepare again’.

“I’m going to focus on how I prepared this time last year. It’s something that’s already happened – and I can do it again,” he said.

The Korean Archery Association was midway through the selection process for its team for Tokyo 2020 when the COVID-19 outbreak caused the cancellation of trials.

It is expected that the process will now be reset.

This could also mean that Rio 2016 Olympic Champion Chang Hye Jin, who was eliminated from the 2020 Olympic team early on, might get a second chance at appearing in Tokyo.

Team USA National and Olympic Head Coach KiSik Lee indicated that he expected the situation.

Lee said: “I see a lot of archers depressed by the postponement, but we expected it. For me, as a coach, we were really ready to go to Tokyo this summer, and now we have to take this situation, settle down, step back and prepare mentally to go next year. Now that the Games are officially postponed, we are already putting plans into action to be ready for Tokyo in 2021. Our athletes are safe and healthy and will continue training. This situation is out of our control, but our training is under control; we will move on and be prepared.”

USA Paralympic Head Coach George Ryals also had a positive view of the decision. “I can see one year as ‘more training time’, a full cancellation would have been devastating for many athletes. One year means more time for development of additional emerging para archery talent. I see this as an opportunity to make our team stronger and deeper for 2021.
“I know the USA Para Archery team is still training and growing skill. The social distancing and quarantine measures have caused them to be more creative with training plans and focus more on the building blocks of their shot routine. I have already seen some growth in scores from a few team members who have doubled down on training. We will see an even stronger team in 2021 and we can still see the light of the Paralympic Games at the end of the tunnel.”

USA Paralympian Eric Bennett commented: “I’m probably more pragmatic than most, I think it’s a good call as we’re seeing around the world, the dangers of not taking this seriously, including in our own country. Postponing is the smartest idea, but it has a lot of downside. The athletes are protecting our health and safety, but this affects our careers. I’m at the tail end of my career, this was very likely my last Games, so it’s hard to know I’ll have to maintain my highest level for another year but this also gives me one more year to be fully prepared and reach my most competitive level so I have my best opportunity to win gold.”

USA Olympian Mackenzie Brown is also taking the postponement as an opportunity to strive for a better outcome in Tokyo: “I am completely behind this decision to postpone the Games. I believe to be in line with the Olympic spirit, it’s in the best interest of the Olympics to be postponed because right now not everyone is able to train their hardest for their Olympic dreams. We are in crazy times right now and it’s difficult to keep very optimistic, but I’ve been training for four years for my dreams and I will continue to train and be ready at any moment to put on my best performance. It’s hard to wait for the next competition, but it’s what I was born to do in my opinion and I will continue to push on.”

On the World Archery level, the impact goes beyond even the Olympic Games. A World Archery executive board meeting decided on a number of important initiatives, all of which impacted the current season.

This included the postponement or cancellation of all international archery competition through the end of June, with new dates to be announced no less than two months in advance.

World records, performance awards, and minimum qualification scores have also been suspended from April 1, until at least the end of June as well.

Currently, the World Field Championship scheduled for September in the USA is still set to be held as planned, and at this time is the only international event with an unchanged, firm date.

Looking ahead to 2021, there will be a new Final Qualification Tournament for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and there could be a possible rescheduling of the World Games, World Masters Games, World University Games and other major events as a result of the new Olympic date in 2021. However, the work to schedule all of those events is now in full swing and the new schedule- and new plans- should fall into place in the next few weeks.