Round of 16
The Round of 16 started off strong; 16-year-old Ricardo Soto of Chile – whom some were suprised even made it this far – took on the Netherland’s Sjef van der Berg, ranked 5th in the world and a medal contender. After five sets, the score was tied 5-5, leaving the winner to be decided by a shootoff.
But it wasn’t that simple.
The first round of the shootoff was too close to call, and a second arrow would have to be shot. Once again, the two athletes shot the same score, but due to van der Berg’s arrow landing closer to the center of the target, he moved on to the quarterfinal match and a meeting with South Korea’s Lee Seungyun, another heavy medal favorite.
The morning session was anchored by yet another all-American match; this time it was Brady Ellison and his younger compatriot, Zach Garrett, who would stand off.
It was another exciting match that went to five sets, but in the end Ellison came away with the 6-4 victory and a place in the quarterfinals.
The first quarterfinal match saw Lee defeated by van der Berg, the second South Korean to lose in the individual competition, leaving only Ku Bonchan, who helped the South Korean team to win gold and defeated Australia’s Taylor Worth in their Round of 16 match, in the search for an individual archery gold medal – what would be South Korea’s fourth of these Olympic games.
Ellison continued his journey to Olympic redemption, beating the reigning Olympic silver medalist, Furukawa Takaharu of Japan, 6-2 to set up a match with Bonchan, with a trip to the gold medal match on the line.
Van der berg and France’s Jean-Charles Valladont‘s respective victories in the quarterfinals lead to an exciting match between the world No. 5 and the world No. 4. Van der berg won the first set 28-26, and the two tied the second. However, Valladont was able to step up his game, winning the next three sets, and taking the match. His victory guarantees a medal, the first for France since Sebastien Flute won Gold in 1992.
The second semifnal match, between Ellison and Ku, was the most thrilling of the day.
The two tied the first three sets, before Ku took the fourth 27-26. Ellison, in a must-win situation in the fifth set, shot a beautiful 29 to Ku’s 28, setting up for a shootout to decide which archer would move on to the gold medal match.
Ellison was up first, shooting an eight, which just wasn’t enough to beat out Ku’s 9, and it was Ku who moved on.
Bronze Medal Match
A tie after the second set between Ellison and van der Berg made it seem as though this match, like many others today, would come down to the wire.
However, a perfect third set put Ellison in a position of power, knowing he only had one set more to win for the bronze medal.
And he did it.
He released his last shot, immediately turning around. As the final score was announced, Ellison was brought to tears by the knowledge that he had won, redeeming himself from his disappointing loss in the Round of 32 in London.
Gold Medal Match
It looked as if Ku Bonchan had a clear path to the gold, winning the two first sets handily.
But Valladont would not give up.
A score change in the third set resulted in a tie, giving him his first set point before he won the fourth set 29-28.
In the fifth, though, Ku Bonchan was able to scrape by Valladont, taking the individual gold and ensuring that South Korea remains on top of the archery world, sweeping all four competitions in Rio.