With the team archery competitions coming to an end this afternoon with the women’s medal matches, it’s time to take a look at the individual competitions, which begin tomorrow with the first sessions of the rounds of 64 and 32.
Although often considered the most dominant country in archery, South Korea couldn’t claim a gold medal in the individual competition until Oh Jin-Hyek won in London in 2012. Now, four years later, South Korea will again be favorited for the honor, led by reigning World Champion, Kim Woo-Jin, who set a world and Olympic record in the ranking round Friday.
His two teammates, Lee Seung-Yun and Ku Bon-Chan will also be in the conversation regarding individual medals, so keep an eye out for them, as well.
One archer blocking Woo-Jin’s way to the podium is American Brady Ellison, who has spent much of the last two years ranked as the top archer in the world. Though he had a disappointing showing in London, being eliminated in the Round of 32, he comes back to Rio ready to exceed expectations, especially after helping the Americans to a silver medal in the team competition yesterday.
He recently told USA Today, “”I’m shooting better than I ever have. I feel like the competition’s getting better, but my confidence and where I’m at in life right now, I think is setting me up to win an individual gold.”
The other two Americans, Jake Kaminski and Zach Garrett, are also in medal contention; however, they are considered to be more of outside contenders.
Rick van der Ven of the Netherlands is also a threat, having finished in fourth in London. He did finish with the silver at the 2015 World Championships, though, and will hope to continue the momentum in these Olympic Games.
Brazil’s own Marcus D’Almeida – an 18-year-old who has been dubbed “Archery’s Neymar” – was the youngest ever to qualify for a World Cup final (he lost to Ellison). Although he is not expected to medal, he’ll be exciting to watch, as he competes at home.
Just like in the team competition, South Korea has yet to lose the gold medal in the individual, and that is not expected to change this year with Ki Bo-Bae, reigning Olympic and World champion, leading the way.
Her biggest roadblock will most likely be her own teammate, Choi Mi-Sun, the bronze medalist at the 2015 World Championships. Mi-Sun also finished in first at the Olympic test event with an almost perfect performance.
Lin Shih-Chia and Tan Ya-Ting of Chinese Taipei will also be in serious medal contention. Shih-Chia was the silver medalist at the 2015 World Championship, and Ya-Ting won the individual bronze at the 2016 World Cup in Medellin, Colombia.
India’s Deepika Kumari has performed extremely well since London and will also be looking to be on the podium.
Nicknamed “Girl on Fire,” the United States’ Mackenzie Brown is also one to look out for in this competition. Although she didn’t make the 2015 World Championships team, she has excelled since then, winning a World Cup gold, silver at the U21 World Championships and finishing third at the Rio test event.
The U.S. hasn’t won a medal in the individual competition since 1976.