Summer Olympic Games 1996 – 2012
The medallists from the men’s team competition at London 2012 are also the top three archery nations in recent years. But a big surprise was the victory of Italy and the third place finish of South Korea, which had taken gold at each of the previous three Games.
South Korea is even more dominant on the women’s side where it has won every single team event since it began in 1988. Overall, it has claimed 65% of all archery golds since 1996. Many Koreans start firing arrows at primary school, and the most talented adults are selected to compete for professional teams, funded by companies such as Hyundai.
In the earliest days of the Olympic Games, the leading country was Belgium. It won 11 gold medals in 1900 and 1920, most of them from its star name, Hubert van Innis, and many of them in events where the target was a “popinjay”, a wooden bird on a tall pole.
Sadly, Belgium has won no medals at all since archery returned to the Olympics in 1972.
Next: The first of six track and field medal tables, looking at heptathlon and decathlon