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Archery: Against the Sun and Wind

Posted August. 09, 2004 22:09,   


At the first Athens Olympics in 108 years, the Korean archery team is looking for a sweep in all the events and is declaring battle against the Greek gods: the Sun god Apollo and the wind-maker Poseidon. Coincidentally, the final round of the archery competition is being held in the Panathenaic Stadium, a very short distance from the Parthenon.

Apollo is the son of Zeus and possesses outstanding beauty and the love of humans and nymphs; exercising great command of archery, art, music, and medicine. However, Apollo is a troublesome and spiteful god to our athletes who have no intention of adjusting themselves locally, especially to the female athletes.

Due to the recently heightened performance-enhancing substance regulations, the athletes must train and perform in the near 40° C heat and blazing sun without sun block lotion. Although sun block lotion seems harmless, the athletes cannot risk the possibility of chemical interactions, which may cause them to test positive. In fact, just last month, a Korean national team athlete suffered bitter insult due to a problem caused by sun block.

Even Yoon Mi-Jin, who is aiming for two gold medals in two consecutive games for the first time in Olympic archery history, cannot allay her concerns; her face has sun-burned in just one day of training.

The drug testing aimed at the world’s best archery team is formidable. In Seoul, Yoon Mi-Jin, Jang Yong-Ho, and Park Kyoung-Mo received the first round of tests by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA); Park Sung-Hyun being the first in archery to have been administered a blood test. Archery and medicine are both in the authority of Apollo; he has no choice but to be out of favor with the Korean team.

Another enemy, Poseidon, is a senior member of the temple along with Zeus, but is an ill-tempered and an easily-angered god of the sea, inciting wind, rain, and waves with his Trident. Poseidon is receiving attention due to the heavy winds in the ocean city of Athens. At the stadium in Dhekelia where the preliminary rounds are being held, Coach Seo Guh-Won stated, “With straight aiming, the arrow can go off as far as the second or third marks. Also, the unpredictable ‘crazy winds,’ which blow indiscriminately from all sides, are causing much strain.” Moreover, the final round is being held in the Panathenaic Stadium which is adjacent to the ocean. The strong ocean winds blow through the two divided structures of the spectator seats, turning into a whirlwind.

However, these troubles are suffered by all other national teams. In the end, the battle between the Korean archers and Greek gods in the mythic city of Athens will a battle fought within oneself.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com