USA archery coach Kisik Lee. Photo: Melissa Adams
The world's leading archery coach says the disbanding of the Australian Institute of Sport archery program has destroyed one of Australia's most ''efficient'' Olympic medal-winning set-ups.
Kisik Lee was in Canberra for the Australian archery championships at Greenway this week. While he hadn't brought his top male archers with him, he expected it to be a tight competition for the title.
The South Korean coach now mentors the US team, but he was in charge of the AIS program for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2004 Athens Games.
Olympic gold medallist Simon Fairweather was one of his students.
Lee joined the US program in 2006 and has taken the men to the top of the world rankings. He said it was ''a sad story'' the AIS program had been removed. Australia has not won a medal in the sport since he left, with our one gold and one bronze coming during his tenure.
''That was very sad because we were the most efficient sport within Australia - with how much money put in and what we could achieve that kind of relationship, we were the most efficient sport,'' Lee said.
''It was almost the best-in-the-world program … every country tried to learn from Australia.''
But Lee thought the new archery centre at Greenway would boost Australia's standing. He said it was a world-class development that would attract archers from around the world to the nation's capital.
While Lee may be lost to Australian archery at the moment, he still has a home in Canberra. His daughter and son-in-law live in his house in Evatt and he returns a couple of times a year to visit.
''This is the best club facility that I've seen … that's what we need for Australia. Since we miss the AIS program we must focus on how we can bring more overseas teams to this country,'' Lee said.
Lee said archery had taken off in the US since the release of the film The Hunger Games. Archery has long been popular in his native country, where it was possible to be a professional archer.
AUSTRALIAN ARCHERY OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Wednesday from 9am: Clout.
Thursday from 10am: Target - Open Recurve, Barebow Recurve and Longbow. Field - Open Compound, Barebow Compound.
Friday from 10am: Target - Open Recurve, Barebow Recurve and Longbow. Field - Open Compound, Barebow Compound.
All events at Greenway archery range.