Denise Parker of South Jordan shot her first Olympic arrow Tuesday as the first of four days of archery competition began at the Hwarang Archery field in Northeast Seoul. And while the 14-year-old American shooter admittedly struggled amid the new pomp and circumstances, she was nonetheless thankful for two things: One, the Games had finally begun; and Two, she could afford to struggle.
Tuesday and Wednesday's portions of the individual competition serve as an elimination process only, whittling a field of 62 women archers down to 24 who will begin quarter-final action Thursday.Scores from Tuesday and Wednesday are not carried over, meaning, effectively, that finishing No. 24 is as good as finishing No. 1.
Parker, figured to be a darkhorse contender for a medal, finished ninth Tuesday, scoring 615 points after the 72-arrow first round was completed at distances of 70 and 60 meters.
Soo-Nyung Kim of Korea led the qualifying with a 648 total, followed by Joanne Franks of Great Britain with 642, Jenny Sjovall of Sweden with 636, and two more Koreans, Hee-Kyung Wang and Young-Sook Yun, at 632 and 626, respectively.
"I didn't shoot that well," said Denise. "But I just want to make it into the top 24, so I guess it's no big deal. The wind was kinda tricky. It was changing a lot. And I think I was nervous, especially this morning."
The competition was divided into a 36-arrow round in the morning and another 36 arrows in the afternoon.
Most of the 1,500 seats in the stadium stands were filled, the Koreans showing good support for their strong team.
In the team standings after one day, Korea was first, followed by the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain. Twelve teams qualify for the medal-round competition, scheduled for Saturday.
For Parker, it was a relief to get the competition under way after nearly two weeks acclimitizing and practicing in Korea.
"It hits you, that you're really in the Olympics, when you look down the line and see people who you've only read about, or seen their scores," she said. "Now I've got to just settle in and get ready for Thursday. I was kind of up and down today."
After a slow start in the morning, Parker moved as high as a tie for sixth in the standings before settling into her ninth place finish. She was the top scoring American. Teammate Debra Ochs finished 15th Tuesday, with 603 points.