Archery was first introduced to the Olympics in 1900, and it has become a beloved staple—though this wasn’t always the case, as archery wasn’t an Olympic sport for several years. After a 52 year hiatus, the sport made a return in 1972 and has remained in place ever since. We have been blessed to see many fantastic Olympic archers during that time, and in this article, we rank the very best.
We have used factors such as total medals, record achievements, and team achievements to formulate our list. These criteria mean that only the very best could make it on our list, and it was very difficult to leave out some highly talented Olympic archers. Without further ado, here are the top 10 Olympic archers of all time.
10. Justin Huish
Starting off our list is Justin Grant Huish. Justin was born in California, and he became most famous when he competed in the 1996 Olympics that were held in Atlanta.
He picked up the game of archery at the age of 14 and did very well at his home Olympics. He picked up gold for the individual and team events, and this was an enormous achievement when you consider the feat of attaining a medal in both the individual and team event had never been done before. To this day, he is the only male that has ever accomplished this prestigious double.
The only reason why he is last on our list is due to the fact that he was not able to sustain his success. He suffered from some personal problems, and a subsequent dip in form meant that he was not even selected in the USA team for the 2000 Olympics, though he still competes locally to this day.
9. Hiroshi Yamamoto
Number 9 on our list is the most successful Japanese archer of all time and goes by the name of Hiroshi Yamamoto. His career stretches across a whopping five Olympic games, and he has been involved in some hugely significant moments. He was still in high school when he picked up numerous national titles. The first medal for Yamamoto came in the 1984 games that were held in Los Angeles. It was only bronze, but he only just missed out on silver, and since he was only 21, he was able to build on that experience.
The subsequent games were not to be as spectacular. He finished 8th in 1988 and had forgettable experiences in 1992, and 1996. However, what makes him such an iconic superstar is the way he was able to bounce back from these experiences. Despite failing to make the squad for the 2000 games, he came back into the sport in 2004 and was able to pick up a silver medal. Incredibly, he was 41 years old at the time, and his story continues to be a source of inspiration in Japan and throughout the world.
8. Jang Yong Ho
South Korea is a country that has a proud tradition in archery, and many top Archers have come from there. They have had significant success in the competition, and Jang Yong Ho is one of their standout Olympians.
He was born in Seoul, and he has had an impressive career that has lasted longer than most. The right-handed man boasts the current record over 90 metres, which he achieved at New York World Championship. His score of 338 is yet to be beaten.
Jang Yong Ho also has a very impressive Olympic record; he won silver for his team at Atlanta in 1996, and then followed this up with team gold in the 2000 and 2004 games. That’s no mean feat, and it highlights his excellent longevity in the sport.
7. Marco Galiazzo
Next up on our list is Marco Galiazzo, who is the most decorated archer of all time in Italy. He burst onto the Olympic scene at the age of 21 and managed to pick up gold at the 2004 Athens games. It was the first medal that Italy had ever won in the sport, and he instantly became a national hero.
But, this was only the start of his achievements. He later went on to clinch team silver at the 2008 Beijing games and team gold in the 2012 London games. Defeat against South Korea in the 2008 final was successfully avenged when the Italian team beat them in a later semi-final. The team won by a single point in a hotly contested final against the USA.
Galiazzo has spoken about his interest in getting involved in coaching, and we are sure he will be able to inspire and train the new generation of archers in his country.
6. Yun Mi Jin
South Korea is the home of the next iconic archer to make it on our list. Yun Mi Jin was selected for the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney at the age of 18 and put in a stunning performance that saw her claim a gold medal in the individual event. South Korea dominated the event with the other podium places also going to South Koreans. These women simply could not be beaten. As you may have expected, the team also picked up gold. Yun Mi Jin would go on to pick up a gold medal in the team event at the 2004 Olympic games.
She remains highly engaged with the sport and currently teaches juniors. She has also completed a Masters degree, which really shows that she has the brains to match the talents.
5. Michele Frangili
Coming up to the halfway stage of our list, we have an archer that has a fairly unique style that has always garnered interest. Michele Frangili utilizes a specific sequence for repeated success. It has worked well for him at various Olympic games, and he has shone in the team event. He picked up bronze in Atlanta, silver in Sydney and finally grabbed that coveted gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic games. In the ’96 games, he set an Olympic record for the round ranking score of 684.
In 2001, Frangili was ranked number one in the world and won the world indoor championships in that year. He even managed to set a world record that remains unbeaten. Sadly, he was unable to replicate this form on the Olympic stage at an individual level.
4. Park Sung-Hyun
South Korea is certainly a country that has developed many elite archers over the past few decades. The next archer on our list, Park Sung-Hyun, is one of the finest examples. She began archery at the age of 14, and her debut in the Olympics came in the 2004 games.
Her overall record in the Olympics is simply astounding. Sung-Hyun picked up individual and team gold at the Athens games in 2004. Not only that, but she also dominated her opponents on the route to the final and beat them all by at least a 10 point margin. She grabbed gold again in the 2008 Beijing games for the team event but had to settle for silver in the individual event.
One notable aspect of her playing style is an ice-cold approach that delivers fantastic results. Her medal count speaks for itself and highlights why she is one of the greatest Olympic archers of all time.
3. Hubert van Innis
We head to Belgium to find the third greatest Olympic archer of all time. Hubert van Innis has an Olympic medal count that simply blows the competition away. Thus far, many of our picks have been athletes that competed in the past few decades. However, since our list covers athletes from all eras, there was no way we could dismiss Hubert van Innism who competed all the way back in 1900.
He competed in an archery format that was significantly different from the one we see in the modern era. In these games, there was no internationalized standard—this had only come after the re-emergence of the sport in the Olympics after 1972.
Hubert van Innis competed at the Paris Olympic Games in 1900 and then in the 1920 Olympic games held in Antwerp. In total, he picked up six gold medals and three silver medals. His hometown of Elewijt even has a statue of him to commemorate his great victories.
2. Darrell Pace
Second place on our list goes to the greatest male archer that America and the rest of the world have ever known. He goes by the name of Darell Pace, and he stands out not only for his two individual gold medals, but for his numerous world championships and Pan-American Games medals.
As a child, he played a lot of baseball, but he became frustrated and disillusioned with losing even when he had played well. This led him to find archery, and he began taking part in Olympic trials at the age of 15. His first involvement in the Olympics came in 1976 at the Montreal games. At the mere age of 19, he swept the competition aside and set a new world record in the process. After coming away with gold, he would go on to repeat this feat at his home Olympics held four years later in LA. He helped his team come away with silver in the 1988 Seoul Olympic games.
Pace had a unique open stance technique, and he was known for practicing heavily on long distances. His intense concentration and ability in himself were some of the key reasons for his continued success. It is no surprise to see that he was ranked as the athlete of the century by the World Archery Federation.
1. Kim Soo-Nyung
Getting her first taste of Olympic action in 1988 at the Seoul games, Kim Soo-Nyung majorly impressed at her hometown games and picked up gold in both the individual and team events. She almost replicated this again at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games but had to settle for silver in the individual event.
But she wasn’t done. Incredibly she also helped her team to win gold in the 2000 Sydney games and came away with bronze in the individual event. That is simply phenomenal, and it shows why she became the star of the team and an icon in her nation.
During her career, she set many outdoor records and inspired an entire generation in Korea. It is clear that Kim Soo-Nyung is the greatest female archer that the world has ever seen, and perhaps even the greatest archer that there will ever be.
Aiming for Greatness
In this list, we’ve shown you the best of the best, each an iconic legend who has made the sport their own. Archery remains a highly competitive and dazzling Olympic sport, and we look forward to the young talent that will try and fill the boots of these greats.