Archery, a popular sport at the Olympics, was invented as early as 10,000 BC. Primarily used in the middle ages for hunting, it was transformed into a global sport much later. With its increasing popularity, Archery earned itself a place in the modern Olympics and is now contested extensively around the world.
History of Archery at the Olympics
It was in the 1900 Paris Olympics that Archery made its debut in the sporting spectacle. 153 athletes from three nations – Belgium, France and Netherlands took part in the event. After three consecutive appearances at the mega event, Archery was excluded from the 1912 Games but was back again in the 1920 Antwerp edition.
That was, however, the last time Archery featured at the Olympics, following which it was again introduced at the 1972 Munich Games. And it has been there ever since. Back then, the discipline followed FITA rounds, where archers shot 36 arrows each at four different targets with distances of 90, 70, 50, and 30m for men, and 70, 60, 50, and 30m for women.
However, the head-to-head system was adopted since the 1992 Olympics and has been followed till date. The upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics will see five medal events – Men’s Individual, Women’s Individual, Men’s Team, Women’s Team, and Mixed Team.
Point System at the Olympics
In the qualification event, each archer has to shoot 72 arrows, with the results determining the rankings for the match-play phase. In the main phase, archers go head-to-head where they compete in best-of-five sets. In each set, there is a pre-determined number of arrows to be shot, with the individual/team with the better aggregate earning two points for a set.
For individual events, a set comprises three arrow shots, while it is four for team events. The first archer/team to accumulate six points is declared the winner. This one-on-one format continues till the final of the event.
If the scores are level after five sets, then the match rolls on into a tie-break. For individual events, the winner is decided by the proximity of the arrow to the target shot by an archer. On the other hand, for team events, each of the players shoots an arrow, while the team with the better total is declared the winner.
Most successful archers at the Olympics
South Korea’s Kim Soo-Nyung is the most successful archer in the history of the Olympics, having claimed four gold medals. Her rich haul was from one individual event at the 1988 Seoul Games and three team events spread across three editions – 1988 (Seoul), 1992 (Barcelona), 2000 (Sydney). Additionally, Kim also collected an individual silver from the 1992 edition as well as a bronze from the 2000 Games.
Meanwhile, USA’s Darrell Pace is the most decorated Olympian archer in terms of individual events, having won two gold medals – 1976 (Montreal), 1984 (Los Angeles).
India’s first appearance in Archery at the Olympics was in 1988, where Shyam Lal, Limba Ram and Sanjeev Singh featured in individual events as well as team events. The women’s team has been the closest to claiming a medal at the Olympics, having reached the quarter-finals on two occasions – 2004 Athens Games and 2016 Rio Games.