China’s Mengyao Zhang overcame Spain’s Elia Canales 6-4 in a keenly contested archery final to win individual women’s recurve gold at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018on Tuesday 16 October.
After scoring 675 points out of a possible 720 in the ranking round to earn top seeding for the elimination rounds, Zhang made her consistency count, averaging an impressive 28 points in each three-arrow set. Her first two opponents were Kazakhstan’s Alexandra Voropayeva and Myanmar’s Pyae Sone Hnin, beaten 7-1 and 6-0 respectively.
Trailing 2-4 to the Republic of Korea’s Yeryeong Son in her semi-final, the Chinese recovered to take the match 6-4. And when Canales shot wide sevens in the second and fourth sets of the gold medal match, Zhang took full advantage to claim the gold.
Son beat Mexico’s Valentina Vazquez Cadena 7-3 to complete the podium at the Parque Sarmiento.
Canales’ silver was a remarkable reward for an athlete who, in all likelihood, would never have taken up archery had fate not intervened in her life while attending a summer camp in her native Spain four years ago. Unable to take part in the more strenuous activities on offer after breaking her ankle on the very first day of the camp, she decided to try her hand at archery instead.
And so her love affair with the bow and arrow was born: “I loved it. I enjoyed it so much and the 15 days flew by.” When the camp ended and she returned, she told her parents of her new passion and continued on a journey that has now taken her all the way to an Olympic podium.