Korean archers hope noisy practice covers all bases
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean Olympic archers will be hoping to avoid striking out in Rio after they announced plans to conduct open training sessions in a baseball dome to harden themselves for potentially hostile environments at the August 5-21 Games.
The Nexen Heroes, a Korea Baseball Organisation (KBO) club based at Gocheok Sky Dome, said on Friday that the archers would be taking aim amid crowd noise and other sound effects before the two weekend games, according to Yonhap news agency.
The targets will be set up 70 metres from the archers, the same arrangement as the Olympics, and the athletes will take part in a simulated competition against national team reserves.
The male team will compete on Saturday, a day ahead of the women's team.
South Korean archers have trained at ballparks since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where raucous Chinese crowds made headlines at home almost as much as the athletes themselves.
In the women's individual final, favoured South Korean Park Sung-hyun appeared visibly rattled by the conditions and fell to Zhang Juanjuan of China. The loss ended South Korean victories in the discipline stretching back six Olympic Games.
Afterwards, the sport's national officials decided to prepare the archers for noisy and distracting environments by making them stand on a baseball field, with crowds on hand encouraged to make noise and with loudspeakers blaring music.
The Asian country remains the world's premier archery power, with 19 gold medals and 34 medals overall since the start of the modern archery competition in 1972.
South Korea is undefeated in the women's team competition, with seven straight gold medals since it became a medal event in 1988, and they will be hoping their unique preparations will help them complete a grand slam.
(Reporting by John O'Brien)