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Olympics Field Guide: Im Dong-Hyun, The Lethal Blind Archer

Name: Im Dong-Hyun

Sport: Archery

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Age: 25

Why you should care about him: He suffers from myopia, which has left him with 20/100 vision in his right eye and 20/200 vision in his left eye, meaning that he is legally blind. He is a blind man who shoots arrows across great distances into incredibly small targets without being able to see those targets, and he is one of the very best in the world at doing so.


Im refuses to wear corrective glasses or contact lenses when he competes, and he told The Telegraph that his targets look "as if different types of paint have been dropped in water. The lines are blurred." So how the hell does he ever manage to hit anything? According to Im, it's all about muscle memory. More from The Telegraph:

Instead, Im has learned to "feel" each shot with his body, training his muscles to be phenomenally consistent in lining up his shots, drawing back the bow and releasing his arrows.

"Archery requires very sensitive muscles," he said. "I used to play football at school, and I enjoyed really physical sports, but I now try to avoid any sports that might build up different muscles. That might have a negative impact on my archery."


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I don't know about you, but that's just about the coolest shit I have ever heard. The importance of muscle memory is something that athletes harp on all the time, but I doubt that many others have mastered it as fully as Im has. The ability to "feel" one's way to a precision archery shot feels less like a skill and more like a superpower. In fact, Im may very well be a vampire-hunting comic book hero come to life.


Olympic/world championships experience: Im helped the South Korean team win gold medals in the team event at both the Beijing and Athens summer Olympics. He has yet to win an individual Olympic medal, but he did win an individual gold at the 2007 world championships and an overall World Cup gold medal in 2008.

Sexy-pose threat level:


Olympic archetype: Brian McKeever, a blind cross-country skier who competed in the 2010 Olympic games.

Scouting report from some guy on the internet: From YouTube commenter counter4471:

korea dominate archery???? lol i hate that style of archery i like kyudo the most.... it hast more good thing into it


Scouting report from home country: From the Yonhap News Agency:

South Korea has grabbed 16 archery gold medals in Olympics, more than any other country. The women's team has won the last six gold medals, and six of the last seven women's individual titles have gone to a South Korean archer. The men's team was victorious in 1988, 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Simply put, winning fewer than two gold medals will be considered a disappointment. To exceed lofty expectations, South Korea will have to end its gold medal drought in the men's individual competition. South Korea has settled for silver three times and bronze once.


Did you know?: Im very nearly gave up archery at the young age of 15 because he didn't feel as if he was making enough progress in the sport. It took a pep talk from his parents to get him to stay with the sport.

Forecast for 2012: Im is a serious contender for a gold medal at this year's games. He's ranked second in the world, and in May he broke his own world record for the 72-arrow event at the World Cup with a score of 696.


Relevant Bob Costas facial expression:

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