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S.Korean archers power to Tokyo victory with Win&Win bows

The Korean sports equipment maker became the world's first developer of Graphene-enhanced flexible bows

By Aug 02, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Win&Win CEO Park Kyung-rae is drawing a WIAWIS bow
Win&Win CEO Park Kyung-rae is drawing a WIAWIS bow

Last Friday, South Korea's An San became the first archer in Olympic history to win three gold medals at a single Games: the women's individual competition; the mixed team match; and the women's team competition.

During the matches, the 20-year-old archer used only WIAWIS bows of Win&Win Co., established by former South Korean national archery team player and head coach Park Kyung-rae.

The same went for other South Korean archery players: They all drew the bows made by Win&Win at the Games, including the two gold medalists Kim Je-deok.

Park has been writing new history in the country's sports equipment market where homemade modern sporting goods had been almost nonexistent. Its flagship products are archery recurve bows, the only type of bows used at the Olympic games.

Win&Win is one of the world's top two bow manufacturers, along with Hoyt Archery of the US-based Easton Group.
 
"Among the 128 archers participating in this Tokyo Olympics, 46 players used Win&Win products," Park told The Korea Economic Daily.

The South Korean company has also made inroads into the bicycle market. Korean track cyclist Lee Hye-jin chose a WIAWIS bike to ride at the Tokyo Olympics.

An San is drawing a WIAWIS bow during the Tokyo Olympics on July 30, 2021
An San is drawing a WIAWIS bow during the Tokyo Olympics on July 30, 2021

GRAPHENE-ENHANCED BOWS, BICYCLE GEARS

Win&Win has earned its reputation after developing graphene-enhanced bows for the first time in the world in 2017. Graphene, referred to as a dream material, is a single layer of carbon atoms. Graphene bows boast of better shock absorption and improved durability, compared to the existing carbon fiber bows.

When a player pulls the bowstring and releases it, the bow receives a strong shock and starts shaking, Park said. But graphene bows are flexible enough to be bent and returned to their original shapes without losing their performance quality.

In the cycling market, bicycles made of graphene composite were already introduced in 2015. The material minimizes the shock felt by cyclists while riding, allowing the athletes to maintain stable control. Now graphene bikes are used by 70-80% of South Korean cyclists, as well as for amateur bicycle races.

(Courtesy of Win&Win)
(Courtesy of Win&Win)

Back in 1975, Chief Executive Park was selected as the first national player of the South Korean archery squad after setting six Korean records in his senior year of high school. He also led the national team to the top of both the 1998 Seoul Olympics and the 1991 World Championships held in Poland.

After stepping down from the head coach position, he set up Win&Win in 1993 with his archery colleagues. He began with an ambitious goal of producing top-tier bows, correcting the shortcomings of foreign brands.

But it got off to a bumpy start. Because of quality problems, the company had to recall all its first exports in 1995 and wrote off the investments it had attracted. In the following year, however, it bounced back, developing new products for shipment to Japan in 1996.

Three years later, it received global fame after two South Korean archers won gold medals at the World Championships held in France in 1999, using Win&Win bows. Becoming a word-of-mouth top-selling bow, 52% of archers used Win&Win bows at the 2012 London Olympics.

Now the company is setting its sights on a broader range of the sports equipment market.

"We will expand into ski board and golf stick markets to grow into a general sports brand," Park said.

Write to Dong-hyun Kim at 3code@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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