Chang continues Korean clean sweep of archery golds
The Republic of Korea's Chang Hye-jin stepped out of compatriot Ki Bo-bae's shadow before fending off a brave challenge from German Lisa Unruh to claim the women's individual archery gold medal at Rio 2016 on 11 August.
The 29-year-old Chang upset champion Ki in a nerve-jangling semi-final and then ensured the title remained in the Republic of Korea's hands for an eighth time in nine Olympics. On a cool, blustery day at the Sambadrome, Chang stood firm in the title-decider, nailing two perfect scores of 10 in the decisive fourth set to close out the match 6-2 and send her country's fans into a frenzy.
“After winning over Ki ... I felt a lot of responsibility for Republic of Korea, so I felt I should do my best to win this final,” said Chang, who also won the team title with Ki and Choi Mi-sun four days earlier.
Triple gold medallist Ki, who had been favoured to clinch back-to-back individual titles, was off her best, but she recovered to defeat Mexico's Alejandra Valencia 6-4 in the bronze play-off. Valencia had shaken up the tournament earlier by thrashing wayward world number one Choi 6-0 in the quarter-finals, leaving the third Korean to weep in anguish as she was escorted from the arena by her coach.
That left the Republic of Korea's proud record in the hands of Ki and Chang, and the pair fought a thrilling duel for the right to protect the legacy. As gusts of wind buffeted the terraces, Chang drew her final arrow needing an eight to topple Ki but hammered it into the innermost gold circle for 10 to close out their match 7-3.
In the final, Chang never wavered despite the most difficult of shooting conditions. With the statue of Christ the Redeemer faintly visible on a mountain-top behind the targets, the devout Christian exhaled as her final arrow scored a winning nine before hugging her coach and parading a big South Korean flag. Unheralded Unruh celebrated Germany's first individual medal in archery, a fine performance after being seeded 21st after the ranking round.
“I'm very pleasantly surprised, of course, I wanted to be in the top 10, but ended up with the silver medal,” the 28-year-old Berliner said.