South Korea’s archery dominance continued in London as Ki Bo Bae narrowly edged Mexico’s Aida Roman in a shoot-off to win the country’s seventh gold in the last eight Olympics.
After a dismal fourth set at Lord’s Cricket Ground, Roman rallied to take the fifth and force a decisive shoot-off. Ki shot first and hit an 8. Roman matched it, but Ki’s arrow was closer to the center, giving her the win and a sweep of the team and individual golds.
But Roman’s silver is still quite a feat for a nation that had never won an archery medal and now has two to its name. Mariana Avitia joined Roman on the podium after she came from behind to beat American Khatuna Lorig in the bronze medal match.
Trailing 4-2 going into the fourth set, Lorig hit a 10 so perfectly centered that it hit the camera hole and bounced off the target. Avitia followed with a 7, and Lorig had an opening. She followed with an 8, and Avitia answered with a 9. But Lorig’s third arrow was a disastrous 6, giving the bronze to Avitia. Lorig fell to Ki in the semifinals.
Fresh off her quarterfinal win, Avitia looked more comfortable with the changing winds and scored three straight 10s in the first set against Lorig, jumping to a 2-0 lead. In the second set, Avitia shot a fourth 10 before two straight 7s, but Lorig couldn’t capitalize, shooting 7-8-7, and the Mexican took a 4-0 lead.
But Lorig, a five-time Olympian, charged back. Tied in the third set after two arrows, Lorig hit a 10 with her third arrow and Avitia wasn’t able to match it and her lead slipped to 4-2.
Lorig – who taught Jennifer Lawrence to her sport in preparation for “The Hunger Games” – won her final elimination match Thursday morning, 6-4, over Ming Cheng of China. She then beat Berengere Schuh of France, a bronze medalist in the team event four years ago, in the quarterfinals, 6-2, before losing to Ki in the semifinals, 6-2.
Lorig has a bronze of her own – she won it 20 years ago in Barcelona, competing for the Unified Team. She is from the Republic of Georgia and she was able to compete for her native country in 1996 in Atlanta. In 2000 she competed as Khatuna Lorigi. She became a U.S. citizen in time for the Beijing Olympics.
For Ki, the top-ranked archer in the world, the individual gold is a fitting finale to a week in which she helped power South Korea to a 210-209 victory over China in the team finale. South Korea has won all seven team golds since the sports was introduced to the Olympics at the 1988 Seoul Games. But London marks the first Games since Atlanta in which only one Korean individual earned a medal.