Host City: London, Great Britain
Date Started: July 27, 2012
Date Finished: August 3, 2012
Participants: 128 (64 men and 64 women) from 55 countries
Youngest Participant: Dan Olaru (15 years, 259 days)
Oldest Participant: Karen Hultzer (46 years, 315 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Oh Jin-Hyek and Ki Bo-Bae (2 medals)
Most Medals (Country): South Korea (4 medals)
Lord’s Cricket Ground, the third to bear that name, was already established as a major sporting venue the best part of a century before the modern revival of the Olympic Games and as such was one of the oldest stadia to host an Olympic event. Two temporary grandstands which could seat 6,500 people were built on the infield of the spiritual home of cricket.
The format of the individual competitions received a small tweak between Beijing and London. In 2008 matches were decided over the total of 12 arrows but the system was changed so that the matches were decided over 5 sets of 3 arrows. The winner of each set getting 2 points with 1 point each for a tie and nothing for the loser. If matches were tied at 6 points apiece a single arrow shoot-out would decide the winner, the closest arrow to the centre determining the victor.
Since 1988 the pattern of Olympic archery had been one of South Korean supremacy. In a good year they would win three of the four available titles, in a bad year just two. 2012 turned into a good year.
The Korean women had a comfortable passage to the team final but had to score a perfect ten with their last arrow to win the gold medal. This was duly achieved by Ki Bo-Bae who then repeated the feat by winning the individual title in a single arrow shoot-out against Mexico’s Aída Román. Ki then burst into tears and apologised to the Korean nation for winning the gold by shooting an 8. “Koreans do not shoot eights” she said.
The Korean men generally performed as impressively as the women but a single below par performance against the United States in the semi-final of the team cost them the chance of retaining their Olympic title. The American team were then themselves upset in the final by the Italians. Needing a 10 with his final shot Michele Frangilli sent the arrow into the middle of the gold sector and his team onto the top step of the Olympic podium.
The men’s individual title seemed destined for South Korea from the moment the nation’s trio of archers topped the standings in the ranking round. Im Dong-Hyeon, who set a world record for 72 arrows in the qualifying phase, was described by the press as being legally blind although the archer himself stated that was an exaggeration. Im was upset in the quarter-final round but his compatriot Oh Jin-Hyek fought through to face Takaharu Furukawa of Japan in the final. Oh was a convincing winner and shot all the 12 arrows he needed to secure victory into the gold rings.