1. Brady Ellison, USA
The most dominant archer in 2019 – the last pre-pandemic international season – Ellison won the Hyundai World Archery Championships, the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final for a record fifth time, broke the 72-arrow, 70-metre ranking round world record with 702 points and ascended to the number one spot in the world rankings, which he still holds. Eighteen months later, Ellison is a new father and, until we see proof otherwise, remains the favourite for Tokyo.
2. Kim Woojin, Korea
The top men’s qualifier for the Korean national team in 2021, two-time World Archery Champion Kim Woojin already owns one team gold medal from his first Olympic appearance at Rio 2016. He is also perhaps the most talented and successful recurve man never to have podiumed in the individual competition at the Games.
3. Mete Gazoz, Turkey
This is a bold position for the ultra-talented Gazoz, considering Turkey is still without a quota place for the Games. But he’s a favourite to secure a spot on home soil at the European Championships in Antalya. As his back-to-back victories at the Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Berlin in 2018 and 2019 show, he can win matches on the big stage.
4. Marcus D’Almeida, Brazil
After bursting onto the scene in 2014 and winning a silver medal at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final, D’Almeida couldn’t muster that same excellence when he stepped into the Sambodromo for his Olympic debut in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro. Five years on, Marcus is a very different man. He’s an ascendent talent once again.
5. Oh Jin Hyek, Korea
No matter how many stories of young archers stepping into the limelight we’ll try to spin in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020, this tale – of a grizzled veteran into the last days of an exceptional career – is potentially better. Oh Jin Hyek, the London 2012 Olympic Champion, is on the Korean squad for 2021 and still has a chance at one last Olympic Games. He’s got the willpower to do it.
Worth watching: Wei Chun-Heng, Chinese Taipei; Steve Wijler, Netherlands; Santiago Arcila, Colombia and Lee Woo Seok, Korea.
There will be much more clarity in the recurve men’s division after the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City in April. Arcila was largely unknown before shooting through the wind to the Pan American title last week.