A quiver qualified by carbon fibre followed by its fletch, equals a recipe for one of the many beautiful sights in archery. At the Olympic games in Rio, there was plenty of it to be seen on day two, which began in the palm-sweating elimination round.
Round of 16
Four teams were rewarded in the ranking round with a bye, those being South Korea, United States, Australia, and Italy. While the archery elites relaxed with their cushion of breathing room, France and Malaysia still needed to fight for survival.
It got off to a disastrous start for the French, losing the first set entirely after scoring two 8’s on the first two shots. But they quickly regained composure and won three straight sets, the fourth featuring a fantastic display of four 10’s. The final score ended with France having 220 and Malaysia 214 as their fourth consecutive year at the Olympic archery event ended in defeat. For France, their journey lead them to the quarter finals against Australia.
Next came the Dutch against Spain. The Spaniards shot poorly on the day, hitting two 7’s in their outing. There wasn’t much they could do but hope, as the leading archer from the Netherlands Sjef van den Berg lended 56 points and a match winning 10 to the team’s 166. The star gazing performance caused a sweep of Spain to end their dreams of gold, as Van den Berg and his team moved to take on the South Korean powerhouse in the next round.
But coming in excitement were the hosts Brazil, having to face an experienced China in their first ever men’s team competition. Arguably their best shooter came in Marcus D’almeida, the 18-year-old prodigy who certainly put on a show. He struck 10 four times and guided Brazil to win the third set, although it wasn’t enough as China and Gu Xuesong beat the hosts 6-2 to advance, D’almeida will now be out of the team competition but his focus will now turn to the individuals, where he’ll have to prove his worth against heavy favorite, Jake Kaminski of the USA.
The last match up of the morning featured Chinese Taipei and Indonesia, who have both showed up to every Olympics since 1984. Indonesia started off strong winning the first set, but the tension began o build with both countries trading points from then on out. Sets two and three both ended in a draw, giving a point to both teams, but Taipei could no longer hold on in the fourth, shooting two 8’s and a 7 to lose in an upset 6-2 against Indonesia. The sixth ranked team in the world walked away disappointed at such an early exit, as Indonesia moved to face USA.
The favored Aussies squared off against France to begin the third round of eliminations. France began to impress and added pressure to Australia through winning the the first set and drawing the second, taking a 3-1 lead. Jean-Charles Valladont led with three 10’s through both sets, backing up his status as the team’s sharpshooter this year. But Australia had no nonsense come the third when Taylor Worth and Alec Potts shot two 10’s to take it 56-52, tying the match at 3-3. Ultimately, it came down to the last two arrows for both countries where a nasty 6 was shot by France, allowing Australia to pull away with sweat on their foreheads.
Following the heated event were the dominant South Koreans shooting against the Netherlands. Kim Woo-jin continued his fine form by establishing a set of 9’s in the first, taking a 2-0 lead early on. In the second set there was no mercy as Korea had a near perfect score, hitting five 10’s for 59 points out of a possible 60. There wasn’t much Sjef van den Berg and the Dutch could do as underdogs, scoring 54 in the third to become swept under the rug by the South Korean archers 6-0.
Such easy gliding also appeared in the Italy and China matchup, but surprisingly not from the Italians. China swept the previous gold medal champions 6-0, aided by Gu Xuesong and his three 10’s. Marco Galiazzo, who shot the winner in 2012 in London to beat the USA, had a terrible day by his standards, scoring 26 out of 30 points possible. The Chinese even trumped the second set 56-48, proving to be the downfall of the defending champs.
Finally arrived the USA versus Indonesia. To begin the first set, the Americans shot in stride as expected to lead by two. But Indonesia came firing out of nowhere come the second set, hitting four 10’s and leaving the U.S. with all the pressure, in which Zach Garrett and his 8 failed to come through. Now tied 2-2, the third end saw USA barely pull through thanks to a 10 by Jake Kaminski, setting up a final fourth set where they led victorious on a 56-51 score.
There is little to say anymore about the South Korean archers, who had their unbelievable day continue right where they left off from the Netherlands. Kim Woo-jin, Ku Bonchan, and Lee Seungyun collected back to back 59 point totals to dominate the first two sets. Taylor Worth and his Aussies scored 57 and 58 but those weren’t good enough despite being some of the highest of day. At this point South Korea looks like a robotic team, who keep themselves from shooting perfect to dodge suspicion. As you may have guessed Australia crumbled in the third set to be swept, where their medal hopes now only in bronze.
China and the USA seemed to be a dogfight. The Chinese had looked hopeful through their first performance while the USA knew their next foes could be South Korea, requiring extreme focus in the current match. Brady Ellison and Zach Garrett lead the first set on two 10’s, spearheading an attack to mount a 2-0 advantage. Jake Kaminski and Ellison took the rounds in the next set scoring 40 of the 58 points, stumbling a very good Chinese team. The third set seemed tricky for USA after only allotting 55, but China had too much pressure on their shoulders as they only shot 53, giving the Americans a chance at the gold once more.
The men from down under had one more chance at the podium, this time against China. The first two set flowed no problem, making the difference 4-0. In the third the Chinese came firing back, ending their set on back to back 10’s to shorten the lead to 4-2. It now came down to the fourth, where China had an opportunity to level the score. Alas, a poor seven from Wang Dapeng suffered any chance at bronze, and a spectacular quad of 10’s from Australia opened the door for a third place finish.
If you were expecting a matchup made for legends, the gold medal final was exactly that and more. South Korea came out the gates perfect, with 60 points in their first set, shocking the U.S. While Zach Garrett and Brady Ellison scored 10’s, Jake Kaminski shot a nine and an eight as Korea took the lead. Jumping to the second set all three american archers shot 19 each for a total of 57, but of course South Korea stood composed with a 58 point total for another set win. Ku Bon-chan absolutely pierced his way to a perfect score through all six arrows, captaining the gold medal victory. Rarely has such a performance happened in the final of an archery event, and South Korea can forever go home as champions, leaving the USA with a consecutive sliver medal and defeat.