Highlights from Tokyo Archery:
Moments from the Big Stage Highlights from Tokyo Archery: Moments from the Big Stage

It was the moment we’d all been waiting for: The 32nd Olympic Games in Tokyo began after a year’s delay. Athletes and spectators were ready to watch some exciting archery matches, and the Tokyo Games certainly delivered. The archery competition concluded on July 31 after nine days of notable matches. Here’s a recap of a handful of exciting moments from the big stage.

The Republic of Korea Does It Again

As expected, the South Korean archery team took home quite a bit of hardware, sweeping gold in four of the five categories. South Korean Olympic veterans Kim Woo-jin and Oh Jin-hyek competed with first-time Olympian Kim Je-deok to win the men’s team gold medal. The women’s team gold medal was secured by An San, Jang Minhee and Kang Chae-young, all three Olympic novices. The women’s team win marks the ninth straight Olympic gold for the country in that category, and South Korea has yet to lose a match since the women’s team event was introduced at the Olympics in 1988.

Nail-Biters

The Republic of Korea’s An San had a stellar Olympic debut. She eliminated the world’s No. 1 archer going into the Olympics, India’s Deepika Kumari, in a 6-0 shutout. San then went into a semifinal match with USA’s Mackenzie Brown, winning the match against Brown 6-5. She went on to win gold in an edge-of-your-seat gold medal match against the Russian Olympic Committee’s Elena Osipova. The two archers traded 10s the whole time, with the tied match ultimately ending in a shoot-off. San won gold by shooting a perfect 10 in the shoot-off. San and Osipova had already faced each other during the women’s team gold medal match, where the Republic of Korea won 6-0. San closed out her first Olympic Games with a historic total sweep, winning gold in the mixed-team, women’s team and women’s individual competitions. She becomes the first Olympic archer to earn gold in three events.

The Round of 16 match between USA’s Jacob Wukie and Riau Ega Salsabilla of Indonesia was also a nail-biter. Salsabilla landed a 4 and a 6 in the first set, but then came back strong with a perfect 30 in the third set. The two archers constantly traded 10s and the match went back and forth every set, ultimately ending in a tiebreaking shoot-off. Wukie secured the win by landing a 9 after Salsabilla’s 8.

Another dramatic matchup was Brown’s quarterfinal with Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia. It came down to a shoot-off in which Brown and Valencia each shot 10s. Brown’s 10 was closer to the X, which gave her the win — an exciting end to an exhilarating match.

Team USA Moments

The No. 2 ranked mixed team of Brown and Brady Ellison lost their first match in an upset to the Turkish team, the No. 15 seed. They both came back strong in the individual competitions, and each finished in the top 10 in their respective divisions.

Brown faced San in a semifinal, and it was a thrilling match. It was heavy with perfect rounds: San posted two 30s, and Brown posted one. The other rounds never dipped below a 27. To decide the match, Brown needed a 10 but landed a 9 that was just a millimeter off the line. San answered with a 10.

“I’m very proud of what I did today,” Brown told USA Archery. “My quarterfinal match was good, I stayed in it the whole time and same with my semifinal match, I was within such a hair’s width away from winning. I never lost focus on any sets and don’t think I gave up at any point.” 

Wukie and Ellison were paired up to face each other in the Round of 8, with Ellison taking the win 7 set points to Wukie’s 3. The two teammates shared an embrace after the match. Ellison came in as the No. 1 seeded archer in the men’s division, and Wukie was just coming off a hiatus from archery. Wukie’s first major international competition after the break was the qualifying event in Paris, just three weeks before the start of the Olympic Games. Wukie closed out the Tokyo Games in ninth place. Ellison would go on to claim seventh place in the men’s individual competition. 

Olympic novices Casey Kaufhold, Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez and Jack Williams of Team USA all had impressive Olympic debuts. Williams shot well in his Round of 32 match against France’s Pierre Plihon. Williams landed six 10s over the course of the match and forced two set ties, with Plihon ultimately winning the match. Kaufhold and Mucino-Fernandez each made it to the round of 16, clinching 17th place at their first Olympic Games. Kaufhold secured the Round of 32 win in her match against Spain’s Ines de Velasco with three outright set wins and one tie. Mucino-Fernandez won her Round of 32 match against Ukraine’s Anastasiia Pavlova. Both of the archers shot multiple 10s in their matches. The Round of 16 match between Mucino-Fernandez and Kumari was an excellent one, with Mucino-Fernandez hanging in there against the top seed, landing a couple of 10s and winning two of the five sets.

Fun Facts

Two sets of archery couples competed in Tokyo. Newlyweds Kumari and fellow Indian archer Atanu Das finished in eighth and ninth place, respectively, in the women’s and men’s individual competition. Kumari competed in the mixed-team event as well, with Pravin Jadhav. Married German archers Lisa Unruh and Florian Unruh each represented their country in the team and individual competitions. Florian also competed in the mixed-team event with teammate Michelle Kroppen.

As theorized as a possibility in the Archery360 article “Here Are Some of the Best Archery Matches from the Big Stage,” we did indeed see a repeat matchup between Oh Jin-hyek and Japan’s Takaharu Furukawa in the form of a men’s team semifinal match. Each archer would go on to win gold, Jin-hyek in the men’s team competition and Furukawa in the men’s individual competition.

Medals at a Glance

Mixed Team

Gold: Republic of Korea
Silver: Netherlands
Bronze: Mexico

Women’s Team

Gold: Republic of Korea
Silver: Russian Olympic Committee
Bronze: Germany

Men’s Team

Gold: Republic of Korea
Silver: Chinese Taipei
Bronze: Japan

Women’s Individual

Gold: An San (KOR)
Silver: Elena Osipova (ROC)
Bronze: Lucilla Boari (ITA)

Men’s Individual

Gold: Mete Gazoz (TUR)
Silver: Mauro Nespoli (ITA)
Bronze: Takaharu Furukawa (JPN)

Looking Ahead

The Tokyo Games may have been delayed, but our appetite for excellent archery matches was satisfied. One could imagine that the athletes were likely hungrier than ever to compete on the big stage. We saw veteran archers continuing their Olympic legacy, new archers making their Olympic debut, and a week’s worth of expert archery. We hope all of the archers enjoyed their Olympic experience and are looking ahead to Paris 2024.

But first, our attention will be on the archery competition at the Paralympic Games, which kicks off on Aug. 24. 

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