Zeroed in on target
South Korean archer Ki hopes to create history by retaining individual title
Ki Bo Bae could grab an individual slice of Olympic history in Rio de Janeiro, but it's one target South Korea's star archer is doing her best to ignore.
The 28-year-old is aiming to do what no archer has managed before by retaining the individual Olympic title she won at the London Games in 2012.
The South Korean media have already begun talking up the prospect, creating a buzz of expectancy that Ki is struggling to shut her ears against.
"Of course, I can't ignore them completely, but I try hard to block out the media," Ki told AFP before a practice session at the Korea National Training Centre in Seoul.
"If I focus on training for the team match as I had done for London, I think my individual performance will naturally follow," she said.
South Korea are the dominant force in world archery, particularly their women archers who have won team gold at seven consecutive Olympics since the team event was introduced back in 1988.
With talented young archers emerging every year, competition is intense - as Ki found when she failed to make the national squad in 2014, and was reduced to watching the Asian Games in Incheon from the TV commentators' booth.
"I think I lost track mentally and became too lax," Ki admitted.
She made a comeback last year and displayed all her old powers of concentration in taking the individual title at the world championships in Copenhagen.
At 28, Ki is now a relative veteran and the only one in the six-member women's team headed for Rio with experience of competing at an Olympic Games.
"I was the youngest in London, so I could comfortably trail behind my seniors, but now, I feel the pressure to lead my team," she said.
Given the skill level required to make the national roster, Ki insisted the lack of Olympic experience among her teammates was not an issue.
"People say it's harder to make it to the Korean team than to win an Olympic medal," she said.
"Only those who survive will be able to overcome the difficulties and challenges you face at big competitions." - AFP.