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If the first-ever YOG mixed team archery event is anything to go by, then the event – which sees male and female archers competing together – is sure to add plenty of drama and excitement to the Olympic programme when it makes its debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Seven years ago, the event was held for the first time at the YOG Singapore 2010, and provided athletes and fans alike with many highlights. In line with the innovative nature of the YOG, the competition didn’t just feature mixed gender teams – it also added an international twist by pairing archers from different nationalities.
With teams based on their ranking scores in the individual events, a closely-fought contest was guaranteed, as archers from different countries came together for the first time to challenge for medals alongside each other, epitomising the spirit of the YOG.
“Some [athletes] have met before but a lot of them haven't,” said Australian coach Peter Feeny during the YOG. “But after this they will have friends for life. This is what the Youth Olympic Games are all about.”
Among those to form a successful partnership were Singapore’s Abdud Dayyan Jaffar and Turkey’s Bengunhan Elif Unsal. To the delight of the host nation’s fans, the duo qualified for the bronze medal match, where they faced Miriam Alarcon from Spain and Emdadul Haque Milon from Bangladesh.
With the contest tied at 5-5 after five sets, Jaffar withstood the pressure of a tense shoot-off in front of a vocal home crowd to hit a perfect 10 with his final arrow, securing the bronze medal in dramatic fashion.
“When I went to shoot I was already thinking I would be the loser, but I shot it really well,” said Jaffar afterwards. “I didn't expect too much going into this competition, so I am really happy and excited.”
The gold medal match proved to be a similarly tight affair in the opening sets, as Anton Karoukin, of Belarus, and Gloria Filippi, of Italy, paired off against Greece’s Zoi Paraskevopoulou and Slovenia’s Gregor Rajh.
With the scores deadlocked at 3-3 after three sets, Filippi and Karoukin edged away from their opponents with some inspired arrows, hitting four 10s and four nines in the last two sets to secure a 7-3 victory.
“I feel lots of new emotions,” said Filippi afterwards. “It was a dream.”
“It was very cool and exciting to win gold,” added Karoukin. “The competition was difficult, the level was high, and all were tough rivals.”
But while Karoukin and Filippi left Singapore with the gold medals, all of the archers went home having enjoyed the unique experience of mixed team archery.
“It was fascinating,” said Iran’s Yasaman Shirian. “It didn't matter whether you came first or last because you were enjoying being with another person. The best part is making good friends with people from other countries.”