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Legally Blind Archer Sets World Record At London 2012 Games

As we've reported, there were no public events on the Olympic sporting schedule today, the day of the opening ceremony. But we must note that two world records were set at the London 2012 Games this morning. That's when South Korean archer Im Dong-hyun scored a record 699 points.

You might recall Im's name — he's made headlines because he is both a gold medalist and legally blind.

Im, 26, was a teenager when he started to lose his eyesight. His vision is now rated at a reported 20/100 in his right eye, and 20/200 in his left eye. Im described how he copes with his condition in an interview with The Telegraph:

"In his words, it leaves the rainbow colours of the archery target looking 'as if different types of paint have been dropped in water. The lines are blurred.'

"Im began losing his eyesight as a teenager, when he was already an established archer, although there are no tell-tale signs.

"'I do not feel that I need to wear glasses. I am not myopic, I am far-sighted,' he said, after one of his daily training sessions at his training centre in Seoul."

Olympic archers shoot at their target from a distance of nearly 230 feet — or, 70 meters, to be exact. The target has two center rings, which are 4.8 and 2.4 inches in diameter.

In the interview, Im went on to describe how he "feels" each shot with his body. He has developed muscles that are very sensitive to the kind of consistency he needs to hit his target, he says.

On the strength of Im's result Friday, the South Koreans also set a team world record in Friday's event, a preliminary ranking round. American Brady Ellison, the world's No. 1-ranked archer, placed tenth Friday, with 676 points.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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