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Korean Archers Push Imaginary Reality

Posted March. 30, 2004 22:34,   


It is the individual final of the 2004 Athens Olympics women’s archery competition.

Yoon Mi-jin (21-year-old, Kyounghee University), facing the Italian champion Natalia Baliba, only has one shot remaining. She wins a gold medal if she shoots a 10. The 45,000 spectators bate their breath in Panatinaiko Stadium, where the first modern Olympics was held.

Yoon releases the arrow after a long sigh. The arrow flies through wind and passes through the center of target. It is a 10-point shot. A light smile covers her naïve face as she achieves two gold medals in the Olympics and two consecutive gold medals for first time in Korean sports history.

“Good job.” Yoon takes off her HMD (Head Mount Display, a special pair of glasses in which you can see an image through an examining sensor) at the remark of coach of women’s team, Seo O-seok. Both the stadium and the crowd disappear at that time. It is so called VR (Virtual Reality) training.

Such training will start from the end of May in earnest. “VR training” is a hidden card that the world class Korean national archery team has secretly prepared to sweep all individual and team games in the Athens Olympics this August.

Just as pilots train with imaginary simulations, the scene of a real stadium and spectators are presented when a program is input.

For a while, national players have done image training in which they see their own photos in a computer-generated Panatinaiko stadium. Image training in which players see a flat image is kind of two-dimensional, however. VR is three-dimensional training.

Also, a player management program in which all data on players are stored has been developed and has almost been completed.

The program, which was developed last December and is currently being tested, has a database of all the points of impact that players hit in practice rounds, and also records how they have performed according to various conditions such as biorhythm, physical state and mental state.

Devoting his time to developing the program with a venture firm, Jang Young-sool, the coach of the men’s team said, “I had an idea of making the system five years ago. It may affect the management for players of other sports.” In fact, other coaches from Taerung Sports Village have been interested in it ever since the development of new program became known through rumor.

The Korea Archery Association will finish development of the two projects by the end of May, where the final tryouts will be completed, and present them to the press at a meeting.

Lee Joong-woo, the new president of the Korea Archery Association, who has eagerly driven the projects after he was appointed in this February, remarked, “Korean archery is the best in the world, but our records are not improving any more. We need a special program to get better records. I will focus on adding information technology to archery for my term.”

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com