Furukawa’s experience easing pressure on men’s team at home Games

Takaharu Furukawa shoots during practice at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Takaharu Furukawa had already accrued four Olympic appearances over the past two decades.

These latest Games, on home soil in Tokyo, are set to be the 36-year-old’s fifth in a row.

His longevity and that well-remembered silver medal from London 2012 make him something of a star in his own nation. He’s the most experienced, most travelled and most successful of the Japanese squad at these Olympics.

There is, without a doubt, more pressure on the home team at a major event like this. But Furukawa has dealt with the spotlight before.

“Since this Olympics is being held in Tokyo and it is the first Games for my two teammates, I think they will feel nervous,” said Furukawa. “If I can take care of them and make them feel as relaxed as possible, we can give out our best.”

Already coaching younger athletes, one of the most-capped Olympians on the field has settled into something of a dual role in the Japanese squad.

He is, without a doubt, here for his own success – but with some of Japan’s best chances coming in the team competitions, Furukawa knows how important his knowledge and experience might be to his teammates.

“Just because it’s my fifth Olympics, I don’t have any special secret. I just have a desire to make the best use of my experience so far,” he explained.

Winning silver in London put a lot of pressure on Furukawa ahead of Rio, where the Japanese media expected him to improve on his prior performance and take gold. It’s easy for those observing to lose sight of just how hard it is to medal in the Olympic archery event.

Takaharu lost in the quarterfinals to Brady Ellison, who would go on to claim individual bronze.

The weight of those expectations is something that Furukawa has learned to avoid.

“I don’t know if I can get the gold medal, but I would like to concentrate on doing my best,” he said. “I’d like to play the game with excitement without thinking about bad things.”

Furukawa and teammates Muto Hiroki and Yuki Kawata, both 24, shoot their qualification round in the afternoon of Friday 23 July 2021, just hours before the official opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.