The archery events have truly been the highlight of the Olympics for me so far. The excitement came to a boil today with the medal rounds for women’s individual archery. Zhang Juan Juan of China (seeded at #27) ran the dominating South Korean gauntlet and smacked down the #3, #2, and #1 ranked archers in the world (all South Korean) back-to-back-to-back. This is the first time a woman not from South Korea has worn gold in any Olympics archery event since 1984!
Quarterfinal: Zhang defeated Joo Hyun-jung (#3 seed) 106-101
Semifinal: Zhang defeated Yun Ok-hee (#2 seed) 115-109
Final: Zhang defeated Park Sung-hyun (#1 seed) 110-109 for the gold medal
The sequence of matches was like the conclusion of a Final Fantasy game with a multiple-form final boss fight. After Zhang defeated a couple tough forms, the South Korean final boss revealed the formidable final form: Park Sung-hyun, the imposing instrument of destruction with an aura of invincibility. Zhang looked a little shaky initially, but recovered to trade blows shot-for-shot with the defending Olympic gold medalist. Zhang triumphed with a strong finish to shock the world and take the gold! The text commentator was flipping out: UNBELIEVABLE!! ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE!!
Just to make it even more epic, the rain was pouring during these matches while the archers did battle. I’m so impressed with the incredible atmosphere at the arena, with the best crowds at the Olympics. The South Korean fans and the Chinese fans showed up in droves, braving the rain in colorful raincoats and belting out very synchronized chants and making raucous noise. It’s unreal how everybody at the arena is yelling their lungs out, the South Koreans fans trying to one-up the Chinese fans, then literally a second later they become dead quiet as the archers get ready to shoot.
Too bad archery concludes tomorrow with the men’s individual finals. Archery looks so fun that I’ve been inspired to see if my university has an active archery club that is beginner-friendly.