Silver sensation Elena Osipova has become the first Russian archer to win an individual medal at the Olympics for 33 years, earning her second honor of the Tokyo Olympics following an epic final against an ultra-cool rival.
According to figures from the final – a thriller against South Korea’s An San, which Osipova only lost on a shootoff following a 5-5 draw – the Russian’s heart rate hit around 160 beats per minute, while her opponent appeared to remain more composed, recording a count closer to 100.
Perhaps that paid off as An, who has had to endure online bullying over her hairstyle at the Games, became the first archer to win three golds at a single Olympiad.
Top seed An was pushed all the way by Osipova, the 22nd-ranked athlete taking an archery medal back to Russia outside of a team event for the first time since the current president of the Russian Archery Federation, Vladimir Yesheev, won bronze in Seoul in 1988.
Osipova had already won silver in the team event, falling to the Koreans again in the final alongside fellow outstanding talents Ksenia Perova and Svetlana Gomboeva.
“In our sport, the result is always fair,” Osipova told the Russian Olympic Committee, adding that she had only targeted “doing her job” rather than specifically focusing on a podium finish.
“In archery, there are no judges, no assessments and other subjective factors. The athlete decides their own destiny.
“Hit the target – win. Miss – you go home with nothing. It’s simple. Today, there was a chance [for me] not to bring the matter to a tie-break, but it [just] did not work out.
“In the decisive shootout, my heart skipped a beat – and the arrow hit the eight.”
20-year-old An was labeled a feminist for cutting her hair short – and that term has been linked with a rise in misogyny among young men in her country recently.
After their athlete was tearful during the medal ceremony, An’s coach asked reporters not to ask non-sporting questions, and she refused to answer a query about the abuse she had received.
“I was trying to calm myself down and talking to myself: ‘Don’t be coy and just shoot’,” she said of the agonizingly close finish.
Celebrating to ‘Permission to Dance’, by K-pop band BTS, An also avenged Kang Chae-young’s comprehensive defeat to Osipova in the previous round.
Osipova thrashed Kang 7-1, having already demolished Italian Lucilla Boari 6-0, and a draw in the final round would have been enough to secure her the title.
Despite any frustration she might feel at spurning the lead, Osipova can look back with immense pride at a superb tournament that has firmly cemented the 28-year-old as a star of the sport following her double European Championships gold medals earlier this year.
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