Participants at the Universiade were better than ever this year, competing at a higher level than in most international tournaments.
"The archery meet at the 2009 Universiade was the best ever. This year, participants competed at a level that was higher than most of the international tournaments (including the Asian and European Grand Prix)". The International Archery Federation (FITA) said it on-line, and of course we are proud to repeat it here.
Nevertheless, everything was not that smooth - the archers had to cope with bad weather conditions. But thanks to the fantastic job done by volunteers, judges, FITA's team of umpires, and everyone involved in the competition, the Organizing Committee managed to respond beautifully to this disadvantage. The military academy was an ideal place to hold the tournament, in fact, many soldiers helped prepare the field after the storms.
Archers from 39 countries met in Belgrade. Some of the contestants could already boast an impressive career. Here is a non-exhaustive list.
Men's Recurve Bow
In addition to the Ukrainian Olympic champion, Viktor Ruban, fans could cheer the participation of Juan Rene Serrano (MEX) who took fourth place in Beijing, as well as other Olympic contestants like Serrano's team mate Luis Eduardo Velez Sanchez, for example. Recent indoor medal winner Rafal Dobrowolski (POL) and his compatriot Jacek Proc were also there. Kuo Cheng Wei (TPE), winner of the Ulsan round of the 2007 World Cup, came to Belgrade with his teammate Wang Cheng Pan.
Others, too, had scored excellent results at the World Cup this year, like Thomas Aubert (FRA), Amedeo Tonelli (ITA), respectively second and fourth in Antalya, and Wenyuan Chen (CHN). A junior world champion, Massimiliano Mandia (ITA), and a member of the FITA Athletes Committee also participated, along with Koreans Kim Seong-Hoon and Park Hee-Jae who are always tough competitors.
Women's Recurve Bow
Justyna Mospinek, who took the finals in the 2008 World Cup, (POL) was one of the great favourites alongside three Koreans Kim Yeseul, Kim Yumi and Chang Hyejin.
Victorya Koval (UKR) and Natalya Erdynieva (RUS) were also expected at the top. Guo Dan (CHN) was a member of the silver medal team at the Beijing Olympic Games and other Olympic contestants made the trip to Belgrade: Jennifer Nichols (USA), the very young Roman Aida (MEX), Yuan Shu-Chi, Wu Hui-Ju (TPE), Miroslava Dagbaeva (RUS) as well as Pia Carmen Lionetti (ITA).
Experts were also delighted to see the current world champion Jessica Tomasi (ITA) in attendance and Qian Jialing (CHN), double winner of the 2006 World Cup.
Men's Compound Bow
A number of young, talented athletes vied for the medals in the men's compound bow category, including Simon Rousseau (CAN), Denis Segin (RUS), Kim Dong-Gyu (KOR), Steven Gatto (USA), Phillips Guy (ITA), Nekouei Namzeh (IRI) and Danzan Khaludorov (FRA).
Women's Compound Bow
Some of the participants had already had the satisfaction of winning medals at the World Cup or the World Championships. These were Ivana Buden (CRO), Albina Loginova (RUS), Linda Ochoa (MEX), Erika Anschutz and Brittany Lorenti (USA). Other contestants to watch were Seok Jihyun (KOR), Laura Longo (ITA) and Maja Marcen (SLO).
All these champions, both men and women, were more or less fortunate at the Universiade, which goes to show that the average level is still growing, and that the ranks are wide open. The results are proof of this. Korea took eight medals (USA: 5, RUS: 4, UKR: 4) of which three were in the compound bow category, which came as quite a surprise. Results of several Asian participants on the compound bow show that this discipline is increasingly popular, and that the skills are sharpening on this continent. Traditional winners like the United States, Italy and France are going to have to cope with new Asian talent. Note that the Universiade is a competition not to be missed by archers who want to make a name for themselves with the compound bow, because this discipline is not included in the Olympic Games.
Shenzhen will be the venue of the next World University Archery Championships in 2010, the final repetition before the Universiade tournament to be held in 2011 where the sport will be one of the optional disciplines - what an opportunity to see whether the Asian countries confirm their spectacular progress!
Relive these moments at www.fisu.net