FROM BOY TO MAN: 2014 YOUTH OLYMPIC WINNER LEE WOO SEOK NOW WORLD #2
Lee Woo Seok went from Youth Olympic Champion to one of the best senior archers in the world. Lee Woo Seok was 17 years old when he won the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Four years later, he’s an eight-time Hyundai Archery World Cup medallist, recent recipient of the silver medal at the World Cup Final and the world’s number-two-ranked recurve man.
“Supposing I showed 50% of my ability at the Nanjing Youth Olympics, I’m now showing 75% of it,” said Woo Seok.
The quarter that’s left?
“My goal is the Olympic Games. That’s where I’ll be at my 100%.”
Woo Seok’s family has a sporting background; his father played soccer. He stared archery at the age of 10 – and picked the sport for an unusual reason.
“There were two clubs in my elementary school, archery and gymnastics. I joined archery because they had more snacks than the gymnastics club,” he said, laughing.
“As I wasn’t allowed to have them at home, I thought it was my opportunity.”
The allure of sweets quickly turned into a passion for the Olympic dream and, more recently, the discipline of joining the professional archery team run by the Korean army’s physical training unit.
Although it took three years for Woo Seok to break into the top line-up in Korea, he’s been around the second team since his Youth Olympic win.
He shot his first Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Medellin in 2015, and also represented Korea at the Universiade and Asian Archery Championships in 2017. But the big break came when he and Kim Woojin came a clear top two at the national selections for this past season.
Woo Seok said he felt “somewhat mystified to be in the top four, scared and excited at the same time”.
But when he got to the international stage, he didn’t disappoint.
In Shanghai, to start the 2018 season, he picked up an individual bronze and team gold. Then, in Antalya, he went head-to-head with teammate and self-proclaimed role model Kim Woojin in the recurve men’s gold medal match and beat him, 6-2.
“He and I seem to understand each other very well. It’s like a sort of telepathy. But I didn’t cling to that result much as I thought we could have more good matches,” said Woo Seok.