Watching an Olympic archer is like watching a ballerina chassé across the stage. Every motion of the bow – raising, drawing and aiming – displays grace and sophistication. As the archer releases her arrow, she expands through her chest, much like a ballerina extending her legs to glide across the floor. Her execution is breathtaking; a true image of beauty. It makes sense, then, for archery to grace the cover of Vogue, a magazine that celebrates beauty’s purest forms.
Vogue Korea featured South Korea’s Chang Hye Jin, 29, in its Sept. 22 digital issue. Hye Jin won gold in the women’s team and individual events at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. It’s clear why Vogue featured Hye Jin. She’s a vision in Dior, Prada, Hermés and Pushbutton. But perhaps it was her sheer determination that caught Vogue’s eye.
“People who know me know that I have had difficult times through my entire career; 2012 was one of those tough years,” she told World Archery correspondent Andrea Vasquez after her Rio win. In 2012, Hye Jin ranked fourth overall in South Korea, narrowly missing the 2012 Olympic team that competed in the London Games. “But then, that’s how they also know all the effort I put in the past four years to be here in Rio, celebrating that I’m an Olympic Champion.”
Vogue shows Hye Jin’s soft, elegant side. But beneath the coy smiles and delicate veil burns a champion’s ferocity. Hye Jin’s fight from the No. 6 position to the podium was difficult, pitting her against Ki Bo Bae – her teammate, fan favorite and London 2012 individual gold medalist – in the semi-finals. Hye Jin advanced to the gold-medal round. Bo Bae took bronze.
“This is the proof of many years of effort,” Hye Jin told Vasquez. “Archery means many things for me, but especially, that’s the reason I built up my confidence and strength – to be here in Rio celebrating my biggest achievement ever, an Olympic gold medal.”
Hye Jin’s Rio win is her second international victory in the women’s individual event. She first won at the 2014 World Cup in Antalya.
Hye Jin is currently the world’s No. 4 archer. Olympic teammates Choi Misun and Bo Bae are No. 1 and No. 3, respectively. Together they took gold in Rio in the women’s team event.
Vogue’s story about Hye Jin portrays elegance and feminine power. But her archery story is far from over. She plans to keep training in hopes of making the national team again in 2017. Will Hye Jin defend South Korea’s gold-medal streak at the Tokyo 2020 Games? We hope so!