South Korea’s Olympic dreams


The London 2012 Olympic Games is South Korean archer, Im Dong Hyun’s best chance to finally win his country its first men’s individual archery gold medal.

early 15,000 athletes will compete in the London Games and many will have similar goals to Dong Hyun. However, he will be attempting to fulfil it with almost no ability to see. The archer has 20/100 vision in his right eye and 20/200 vision in his left. This means that Dong Hyun’s eyes need to be 20 feet away from an object in order to have the same clarity a standard eye achieves at 100 or 200 feet.

[quote align=”center” color=”#b64736″]I was so young and so nervous competing at my first Olympic Games in Athens 2004. In Beijing 2008, I was already able to better manage the strain and the pressure. Today I feel ever more confident than at those past Olympics. [/quote]

His vision puts him on the brink of the definition of legal blindness. The World Health Organization’s defines it as visibility of 20/200 or less in the better eye. However, that is only after corrective measures have been taken and Dong Hyun refuses to get corrective surgery or wear contacts or glasses. He says he does not want to tinker with something that is broken. Instead  the current world number two, according to World Archery (the governing body for archery), has trained his muscles to remember the precise movements for the perfect shot through hours of repetition –taking vision out of the equation.

This technique has enabled him to help South Korea earn gold medals in men’s team archery during the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.  But Dong Hyun was disappointed to barely finish in the top ten at the Athens and Beijing Games in the individual competition. He said: “I was so young [18] and so nervous competing at my first Olympic Games in Athens 2004. In Beijing 2008, I was already able to better manage the strain and the pressure. Today I feel ever more confident than at those past Olympics.”

 

By Frederick Dawson

 

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