Sunday, May 28, 2023 | Last Update : 06:44 PM IST

  Koreans’ secret weapon: Chopsticks

Koreans’ secret weapon: Chopsticks

Published : Aug 11, 2016, 2:26 am IST
Updated : Aug 11, 2016, 2:26 am IST

South Korea’s archers celebrate after winning the gold medal in the women’s team competition at the Sambodromo venue. (Photo: AFP)

South Korea’s archers celebrate after winning the gold medal in the women’s team competition at the Sambodromo venue. (Photo: AFP)

Forget biomechanics and psychological counseling. Coaches hoping their athletes can match the dominant South Koreans in Olympic archery might just need to hand them a pair of chopsticks.

That is, at least, the opinion of Yang Chang-hoon, head coach of South Korea's peerless women who captured an eighth consecutive team title on Sunday to protect the nation’s undefeated record at the Olympics dating back to 1988.

The outrageous success has prompted a number of theories about the mental and physical constitution of South Koreans, who are already renowned for punishing training regimes and practicing at noisy baseball stadiums to improve their concentration.

“I don’t think that there is anything special about Koreans’ physical attributes,” Yang said in an interview at the Sambodromo venue on Tuesday.

“But I think since Koreans use chopsticks a lot we do have special hand skills. So, that has helped.”

Olympic results do support Yang's theory — to an extent.

China, whose traditional eating utensils are also chopsticks, is an archery power and their women's team were second to the South Koreans in three consecutive Olympics from 2000-2008.

But China’s and other Asian countries’ chopsticks, being longer and wooden, tend to be a bit easier to use.

Korean chopsticks are thinner, made of steel and can be very hard to come to grips with for the untrained.

Would-be challengers to the Koreans’ dominance are unlikely to master them in time to have much of an effect in Rio anyway, given the team event has wrapped up and the individual tournament is well on its way.

All three of South Korea’s women’s team, champion Ki Bo-bae, Choi Mi-sun and Chang Hye-jin, have moved comfortably through their opening rounds, but Yang wasn’t giving away any more secrets, with tougher encounters to come.

He sighed when asked about the pressure he felt as head coach of the three women entrusted with the legacy of Olympic achievement.

“We’ve always had the pressure at the Games. And we did feel the pressure in our minds at these Games,” he said.

“But since we’ve prepared so hard, we also felt confident we could be successful.

“Since the Korean girls have done so well, it has inspired other Korean athletes to have confidence in their sports.

“At the same time, we often wonder, can we do it again But every time we make it, it’s great.”

Location: Brazil, Rio de Janeiro