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Kang Chae Young: Poised for archery greatness?

The 21-year-old Universiade Champion shoots at her second worlds in Mexico.

At just 21 years of age, Kang Chae Young has already been selected for her second World Archery Championships. It was only two-and-a-half years before Mexico City that she was making her international debut at the Archery World Cup stage in Shanghai in 2015, where she left with three gold medals.

It was a lofty haul for a first tournament, and Kang felt the pressure.

“It was a burden at the time, but it doesn’t really affect me anymore,” she said.

Kang’s archery career hasn’t been without struggles.

At the Korean national team selections for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Kang narrowly lost a spot to teammate and eventual double gold medalist, Chang Hye Jin.

“I was really frustrated and it was a difficult time for me,” she said. “That experience ended up becoming a stepping stone and I’ve become a better archer because of it.”

Kang Chae Young also expressed disappointment with her performance at the Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Salt Lake City in 2017.

“During the individual matches, I was really nervous and was trying to shoot with good technique. Since then, I’ve been trying to find that shooting form I had been aiming for when I was in Salt Lake City,” she said.

These stepping stones seem poised to launch Kang Chae Young into greatness.

At the last stage of the season in Berlin, she took home both team and individual golds, where she also edged out London 2012 Olympic Champion, Ki Bo Bae, for a spot on the Korean team to attend the World Archery Championships in Mexico City.

“Our team selections continued throughout the World Cup circuit and up until Berlin, there were only a few points separating us,” Kang explained. “I worked really hard and I think that’s why I was able to come here.”

Kang Chae Young, polite and soft spoken, believes her greatest strength as an archer is her boldness on and off the field.

When asked whose style her technique is most similar to, she was quick to respond: “Chang Hye Jin.”

“We both shoot quickly and we’re both optimistic. Our personalities are similar, too – we’re both really friendly and animated at times.”

When asked how she felt about her new nickname, “The Destroyer”, Kang laughed and said, “I didn’t know I was given a nickname until I found out a few days ago! I happened to see an article that called me “The Destroyer” and I thought it was great,” she laughed.

“As an athlete, I think having a nickname like “The Destroyer” is pretty awesome!”

With an opportunity to secure a first individual medal at her second world championships, the reigning Universiade Champion came prepared. She’s been shooting upwards of 400 arrows a day in training.

“I’m just really happy to be at the world championships,” she said. “It feels like I’m getting a fresh start again this year.”

What would you be doing if you weren’t an archer? “Just studying or working somewhere part-time.” [laughs]

What kind of part-time job do you think you’d have? “I really want to work at a cafe or something similar. I enjoy cooking and making food. I’d love to do something like that.”

What would you do/where would you go if you had a full week of vacation right now? “It’s been a while since I’ve gone home. I’d love to go back to my hometown [Ulsan], see my parents, and visit my elementary, middle, and high school teachers.”

Who is your favourite singer? “Davichi.”

Favourite movie? “The Front Line with the actor Lee Jae Hoon. It’s a war movie.” [laughs]

Favourite food? “Kimchi stew!”

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