Years of preparation, millions of arrows, sweat and tears all led up to this past week’s Olympic archery event in Rio. We’ve been watching their journey, rooting them on from the sidelines, and this week, we had a front row seat at the finish line. Going into the Games, there were a few names that were safe bets to be big contenders, but this week’s finals proved that there are no safe bets in archery. We’ve pulled together a compilation of the highs and lows of archery in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The final results at a glance:
Women’s Team Competition:
Gold: South Korea
Silver: Russia Bronze: Chinese Taipei
MEN’S TEAM COMPETITION:
Gold: South Korea
Silver: U.S.A. Bronze: Australia
Women’s Individual Competition:
Gold: Chang Hye-jin (South Korea)
Silver: Lisa Unruh (Germany) Bronze: Ki Bo-Bae (South Korea)
Men’s Individual Competition:
Gold: Ku Bonchan (South Korea)
Silver: Jean-Charles Valladont (France) Bronze: Brady Ellison(U.S.A.)
On the women’s side, South Korea made history this Olympic Games. They kept their legendary team gold streak alive, nabbing another Olympic title versus Russia, and reminding the world that the South Korean women have never lost team gold at the Olympics since archery’s induction into the Games in 1988.
The battle for men’s team gold between South Korea and the U.S. once again left the U.S. with the silver medal, making it the Americans’ second consecutive team silver. The team of Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski, and Zach Garrett shot well despite an awe-inspiring performance by their gold medal-winning opponents. The South Korean team left the audience stunned, missing the middle only three times, with a near perfect score of 177/180.
The men’s individual archery favorite Kim Woojin was upset in the second round by Indonesian archer Riau Ega Agatha by a score of 6-2. This was a crazy result: Kim had qualified first, set a new Olympic AND world record with an improbably high score of 700/720 in qualifications, AND helped his team to a gold medal in the men’s team event.
Kim wins the award for the most heartbreaking interview of the archery competition:
“I prepared so much for this and I feel that everything is gone now,” said Kim in an interview with World Archery. “I’m in shock. I don’t blame anything or anyone, I just regret not doing well today. The past four years I prepared a lot. I feel really great about getting the gold medal for the team event, but for the individual one I regret a lot because I prepared a lot and now it’s all gone.”
SJEF VAN DEN BERG – NETHERLANDS
Sjef van den Berg made the men’s top 16 even after falling ill the day before qualifications. According to World Archery, he got sick so violently that he popped a blood vessel in his eye. Luckily for him, he didn’t lose sight in that eye, and was able to clench a top 16 spot. van den Berg pulled off a major upset, taking down South Korean team gold winner Lee Seung-Yun in the quarterfinals. Van den Berg ultimately fell to Brady Ellison in the bronze medal match.
USA MATCH UPS
Teammates Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski had the unfortunate luck to draw each other in the second round of individual head-to-heads. Ellison edged out Kaminski in a bittersweet victory, then went on to beat his other teammate, Zach Garrett, in the quarterfinals to claim the sole semifinals spot for Team USA. In winning his quarterfinal, Ellison shot past Takaharu Furukawa of Japan, who was the individual silver medalist at London 2012. Narrowly losing to Ku Bonchan in the semifinal after taking it to a nailbiting tiebreaker, Ellison then faced van den Berg and won the bronze medal, becoming the first American archer to win an individual Olympic medal since 2000!
ATANU DAS – INDIA
In an incredulously close match, India’s Atanu Das and South Korea’s Lee Seung-Yun were locked in a heated match for five rounds. The first set was taken by Lee, the second by Das, the third a tie, then Lee edged out ahead with the fourth. Das put in an amicable fight in the fifth set, forcing another tie, but it wasn’t enough to take the win. India, as a result, lost its last contender.
The women’s side saw a major upset, too – World No. 1 Choi Misun of South Korea, largely favored for a final four match, was eliminated early on by Alejandra Valencia of Mexico.
Though Ki Bo-Bae was the number one seed for South Korea, teammate Chang Hye-Jin (ranked sixth overall) came through in the finals and landed the gold medal. Significance: Chang had previously only won a single international medal before becoming Olympic champion.
In an even bigger upset, silver went to the number sixteen seed, Lisa Unruh from Germany, with favorite Ki Bo-Bae landing bronze.
Following individual silver and bronze medals in the London 2012 Olympics, Alejandra Valencia of Mexico kept the top five streak for Mexico alive by finishing fourth in the finals.
Ane Marcelle Dos Santos – Brazil
Brazil’s last standing representative was Ane Marcelle Dos Santos. A samba dancer, Santos has performed at the Sambodromo arena, where the archery competitions have been hosted before. She tells World Archery that the transition wasn’t a difficult one. “The only real difference is the skill. You do samba with your feet, archery with your hands. The emotion and the excitement is the same.” Dos Santos ended up losing in the third round, finishing ninth overall for the women.
Htwe San Yu – Myanmar
In a steamroll of upsets, Myanmar’s Htwe San Yu (ranked 51) took out Taru Kuoppa (ranked 14), then proceeded to knock out USA’s own Mackenzie Brown, the sole American entry in the women’s competition. Htwe San Yu is at the Olympics on Tripartite invitation, and she has been reveling in every minute of it. The reveling is perhaps what caused her slip up on Thursday against reigning Olympic champion Ki Bo-Bae. She admits in an article on World Archery, “I was very excited to shoot against a Korean archer, even more an Olympic Champion. That’s why my performance today was very bad compared to the other matches, I was too excited.”
This week has been a whirlwind of talent and emotions, each archer proving that they deserved their spot in Rio. It is something spectacular to say you represented your country at one of the greatest sporting competitions on Earth. Every archer deserves to bask in the after-glow of the competition, take a mental and physical breather, hug their coaches and loved ones, and then pick themselves up and get back to work, because Tokyo 2020 is right around the corner.