The Republic of Korea, led by the outstanding AN San, nearly swept the gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. After taking home all four golds at Rio, South Korean archers dominated the first-ever Olympic mixed-team competition on route to sweeping all four titles at Tokyo.
Mete Gazoz won the first Olympic archery medal for Turkey, while none of the three men made it through the quarterfinals.
Although OH Jinhyek, who won the individual gold medal at the London 2012 Games, earned the team gold at the age of 39, it is clear that youth was the dominant demographic at these Games.
Here, we’ll go through some of the highlights, run down the medalists, and tell you who to keep an eye on for Paris 2024.
Top 3 Olympic Performances: Archery Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Here are a few of the most memorable moments from the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
1) First-Ever Gold for a Mixed-Gender Korean Team
At Tokyo 2020, the new mixed team event was the first to choose an archery gold medal winner.
Each pair consisted of a man and a woman, and they each shot two arrows every set. The Koreans had swept the gold medals in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but this tournament could prove to be their undoing.
That danger never came to pass.
They beat Bangladesh, India, and Mexico with ease on their way to the final, where they will face a team of even younger players, AN San and KIM Je Deok, who are a combined 37 years old.
The Dutch would prove to be formidable opponents in the championship match, taking the first set 38-35 behind the stellar play of Gabriela Schloesser and Steve Wijler.
In the second set, An’s final 10 points tied the game, and in the third, Wijler’s final six arrows gave Korea a 4-2 advantage.
In the deciding match, both sides played their best, with the Dutch notching three perfect 10s in their total of 39.
Both Kim and An scored 10s with their opening shots, and Kim landed in the middle again, leaving the Koreans needing only nine to win the set and the Olympic gold.
In typical fashion, An quickly lined up, scored nine, and sealed a 5-3 victory and Olympic gold with his quick play.
Luis Alvarez helped Mexico to a victory over Turkey in the bronze medal match despite falling behind 2-0 in the second set.
With a score of 39 in the deciding set, Alvarez and Alejandra Valencia defeated Mete Gazoz and Yasemin Anagoz 6-2 to win their country’s first archery medal since Aida Roman and Mariana Avitia won silver and bronze, respectively, in the individual competition at the London 2012 Olympics.
2) There has been No Stopping Korea’s Female Athletes as they Continue their Winning Streak.
The South Korean women’s archery team has never been defeated since the sport’s inclusion in the Olympic calendar as a team event in Seoul in 1988.
China came the closest, losing the 2012 final to Japan by a single point. In the quarterfinals, An, JANG Minhee, and KANG Chaeyoung breezed over Italy after placing first in the rankings round.
They split the third set against Belarus in the semi-finals after Jang missed with the game-deciding arrow (a seven). However, they were back to their vicious best in the championship match.
The Koreans, who shot first, scored 55, while ROC came up one point short. Korea won the next two sets with relative ease, 56-53 and 54-51, giving them a perfect 9-0 record in women’s team competition and the longest winning run of any team at these Olympic Games.
The fact that all three of them were making their Olympic debuts adds to the impressiveness of this achievement. With Germany’s 5-1 victory, Belarus was unable to win its first Olympic medal in archery.
3) An San Fills in the Missing
An San, already a two-time gold medalist from the previous Games, added a third in the women’s individual competition.
The 20-year-old, the only Korean in the final four, had to win both the semifinal and final in one-arrow shoot-offs, making this a difficult achievement.
After a close match against HAYAKAMA Ren of Japan (6-4 in the quarterfinals), An breezed past Deepika Kumari of India (ranked first in the world) by a score of 6-0 in the semis.
The semi-final matchup with Mackenzie Brown was next, and it was a doozy. An lost the first set, but then won the next two games, giving her a 4-2 lead. The American shot back with a perfect 30 of her own, turning the encounter into a duel between two skilled marksmen.
Brown’s pulse rate hovered around 120 beats per minute, whereas An’s barely topped 100 as the strain grew. Brown needed a 10 on her final shot in the fifth set to win, but her arrow landed in the 9 zone instead, forcing a shootout.
Brown could only manage a nine, while An opened with a one on the inner ring. Similar to the team final, the individual final pitted Korea against ROC, with Kang Chaeyoung’s quarterfinal opponent, Elena Osipova, standing between An and immortality.
The first set was a tiebreaker, and then An broke 30 to take a 3-1 lead in the second. Osipova continued her dominant performance, clinching the third set 28-27 and the fourth set 29-27 to inch closer to the gold medal.
An’s pulse rate stayed at around 110 beats per minute even as she stared down the barrel of a crushing defeat, whereas Osipova’s soared to 165. The young Korean player epitomised composure as he finished the fifth set with two 10s, so ensuring a shootout.
Both women were able to joke and have fun with their coaches right up until they shot the most pivotal individual arrows of their lives.
Like in the semi-finals, An got a 10, but this time it was on the outside ring, enabling her 28-year-old rival a chance to score.
An gave South Korea its sixth individual women’s gold in the previous nine Olympic Games, while Osipova could only manage an eight before turning to her coach and beaming enthusiastically.
Though her triumph was not universally celebrated, An rose to the status of national hero in a matter of days.
Some people in her own country have taken to the Internet to bash her for her short hair, claiming that she is a “feminist” who dislikes men.
According to a question posed to her on Instagram, An explained that she keeps her hair in this style because it is “comfortable” for her.
An has not only won three gold medals, but she has also sparked a movement that will only help the cause of gender equality in Korea.