Clutch Hiroki Muto captures men’s team bronze for Japan

The Japanese men's team celebrates at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Hiroki Muto showed steely nerves when it mattered most on Monday in the archery arena at Yumenoshima Park, finding the centre of the target with his final arrow to deliver Japan men’s team bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The host nation defeated the Netherlands, 5-4, in a tense tiebreak, the Japanese squad’s second consecutive of the tournament.

They had lost the first to Korea – and then overcame a two-point deficit entering the fourth set against the Dutch men to secure the country’s first-ever medal in the history of the men’s team event at the Games.

Muto, making his Olympic debut, shot in the anchor spot.

Takaharu Furukawa and Yuki Kawata opened the bronze-match shoot-off with nines. With a spot on the podium in the balance, the 24-year-old’s final attempt landed nearly in the heart of the target. 

“I just focused on things that I've been doing in my practice, it was nothing special,” Muto said. “I overcame a lot of training and practice, so I just did everything that I could during this [shot].”

Takaharu Furukawa shoots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Japan last won a medal in archery at the 2012 Olympics in London, where Fukukawa won a silver in the individual competition and the women took the bronze in the team event.

Competing in his fifth consecutive Games, Furukawa now has a second Olympic medal to his name. 

“This is the first team medal that a Japanese [men’s] team wins in the Tokyo Olympics, so we are very happy,” Furukawa said. “We are very glad that we delivered this medal.”

Japan can also take pride in posing perhaps the greatest threat to powerhouse Korea this Olympics. 

Archery’s top-ranked nation defeated Chinese Taipei, 6-0, in the gold medal match, but only after squeaking by Japan in a tiebreak, with Kim Je Deok’s arrow landing closest to the centre. Muto had the chance to cause the upset there, too – but wasn’t able to deliver a last-arrow 10.

Japan had also beat the USA, 5-1, to reach the semifinals, ending world number one Brady Ellison’s hopes for a third consecutive team medal in the process.

With the weight of their country’s expectations on their shoulders, the host nation dealt with the spotlight admirably.

The archery competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games continue with the individual events, starting on Tuesday.