Furukawa doubles Tokyo tally with second Olympic bronze

Furukawa Takaharu shoots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

These Olympics were always going to mean something more for Takaharu Furukawa

The longest-tenured member of the Japanese archery team, with four previous Olympic appearances to his name, Furukawa entered the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with an added weight placed upon his already-accomplished shoulders.

Host nations have historically thrived on home soil, buoyed by a familiarity with the venue and the support of local fans. Thoroughly regarded as one of the greatest archers in his nation’s history, could the London 2012 silver medallist further solidify his legacy on home soil? 

With his performance on Saturday in the men’s individual event, Furukawa's fifth appearance at the Games proved to yield the greatest bounty of his decorated career.

The veteran archer defeated Chinese Taipei’s Tang Chih-Chun on the final day of the archery events at Yumenoshima Park, capturing his second medal of these Olympics by earning bronze in the men’s individual event.

He is the first Japanese archer to collect multiple medals at a single Olympic Games, having also taken bronze in the men’s team event alongside Hiroki Muto and Yuki Kawata earlier in the week. 

After facing an unprecedented level of pressure, Furukawa delivered when it mattered most.

“Even though it’s my fifth time at the Olympics, it’s my first one here in Tokyo, so this is what makes my medal so special,” Furukawa said. “A lot of people might think that it can be stressful, but it really did support me through all my journey here.”

Takaharu acknowledges the home crowd at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Competing in a sparsely populated venue devoid of spectators in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Furukawa still acknowledged the significance of shooting on home soil.

A number of stadium volunteers supported the Osaka resident inside the arena, as Furukawa defeated India’s Atanu Das and Li Jialun of China in his first two matches of the day before falling to eventual Olympic Champion Mete Gazoz in the semifinals. 

Shooting second in his match against Tang Chih-Chun, Furukawa went ahead in the fourth set, 5-3, before firing a 10 with his last arrow to ensure a tied set and a 6-4 victory. He leaves his home Olympics with two medals and three over his career after finishing runner-up nine years ago.

“When I was coming to the venue, I realised that a lot of people was supporting me, a lot of people wished me good luck on my competition,” he said. “The feeling of appreciation and the feeling of gratitude exceeds the feeling of joy right now for me. Since I was supported by a lot of people, I was able to win this medal.”

With this podium, Furukawa joins a list of three men who have collected multiple individual medals in the archery competitions at the Olympics.

USA archer Darrell Pace won two gold medals, in 1976 and 1984; Italy’s Giancarlo Ferrari earned two bronze medals, in 1976 and 1980; and Furukawa’s fellow countryman Yamamoto Hiroshi won one silver and one bronze, in 1984 and 2004, respectively.

“I am very happy to be able to win this, but I’m feeling thanks to those who supported me,” Furukawa said. “To have my name in the history in a home Olympics is something that gives me the greatest pleasure.”