An San wins third gold of Tokyo 2020 Olympics

An San celebrates individual gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Korean 20-year-old An San won back-to-back matches in tiebreaks to secure the individual Olympic title and become the first archer in the sport’s modern history to win three golds at one edition of the Games.

“I feel really happy,” she said.

“When I first won the mixed team event gold, I was wondering if I could win all three gold medals, and now I’ve done it, I feel so grateful.”

Having qualified top in Japan, she was the favourite.

Her path to the top spot of the individual podium, however, was fraught with danger – and An San truly had to battle.

The first major obstacle appeared in the semifinals. She was tied with Mackenzie Brown after four sets of a high-quality tussle. The archer from the USA was just millimetres away from an upset, her final arrow landing slightly outside of the 10-ring on the left.

In the tiebreak, the top seed drilled the middle. Brown followed with a nine.

An San then met a surging Elena Osipova in the final. The archer in red had bulldozed through her matches, slicing up the brackets from the 22nd seed after qualifying, pumping her fist with greater and greater determination each time she won a set. Osipova grew into the final.

Trailing after the opening two sets, Osipova won the two that followed. She was leading, 5-3, and within a single set point of the Olympic title.

An San was down. But she wasn’t out.

Displaying the poise, control and sheer precision that has embodied her performance at these Games, she shot two 10s with her final two arrows, delivering a 29-point set to close the match – and force another tiebreak. She had chosen to shoot first at the start of the match, meaning she would open the shoot-off, too.

“I tried to calm myself down, and I kept telling myself that I could do it,” An San said afterwards.

“When I shot that arrow, I was certain it was going to hit the 10.”

It did hit. And although there was space for Osipova, she couldn't find it.

(The onscreen heart rate graphics showed An San at 118 beats per minute during her tiebreak arrow, and Elena Osipova at 167 during hers.)

The win give Korea’s fourth gold medal in the archery events at these Olympics – and a place in so many chapters of the history books for An San, the latest in a line of nine women’s Olympic Champions for Korea.

She is the first archer to win three golds at one Olympics since the sport’s return to the programme in 1972 – and only the sixth overall.

An San also took the women’s team title, extending Korea’s unbeaten run in the event to nine editions of the Games, and the first-ever mixed team title, after partnering with 17-year-old phenom Kim Je Deok, here in Japan.

Osipova is the first archer from the ROC to climb the podium in the women’s individual competition and a double-silver-medallist at these Games, having also finished second in the team event.

And Lucilla Boari, who beat Mackenzie Brown in the bronze medal match, is the first woman from Italy to win an Olympic archery medal.

The archery competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games conclude with the men’s finals on 31 July 2021.

Final ranking: women

  1. An San, Korea
  2. Elena Osipova, ROC
  3. Lucilla Boari, Italy
  4. Mackenzie Brown, USA
  5. Alejandra Valencia, Mexico
  6. Wu Jiaxin, China
  7. Kang Chae Young, Korea
  8. Deepika Kumari, India