The archery competition has a long history at the Olympic Games. The sport itself became a favorite of the Egyptian pharaohs during the 18th dynasty, but the earliest recorded archery tournaments took place during the Zhou (Chou) dynasty (1027-256 BC) in China and the sport continued to evolve into the modern form known today.
The archery competition began at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, and returned for the 1904 and 1908 games. Archery was not included in the list of events from 1920 until 1972, when it made its return in Munich. All competition since the Munich Olympics is considered the modern era. The 1992 Summer Olympics adopted a head-to-head format that has been used ever since. Eighty-three different nations have appeared in the Olympic archery competition, with France being the most frequent competitor with 11 appearances.
South Korea has been the most successful nation in the modern era, winning 16 golds and 30 medals in total. The United States has the second most medals in the modern era with 13, eight of which are gold.
Individual Men, Individual Women, Team Men, and Team Women are the four different fields of archery competition. The contests are all governed by the International Archery Federation and all competitors will use recurve bows rather than a straight-limbed bow.
Hubert Van Innis of Belgium is still the most decorated archer to this day. Van Innis won six gold medals and three silvers after competing in the 1900 and 1920 games.
South Korea swept the team archery competitions at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Im Dong-Hyun, Lee Chang-Hwan and Park Kyung-Mo delivered gold for the men, while Park Sung-Hyun, Yun Ok-Hee, and Joo Hyun-Jung took the female competition for South Korea. The South Korean team has won 24 of the total 25 gold medals in archery since 1984 for women.
Im, who is considered legally blind with 20/200 vision, set a world record in the 72-arrow men's individual ranking round with a score of 687 at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Im, a winner of two team golds, has yet to win a medal in the Olympic Games in the individual competition.
South Korea has won the gold in men's team competition at the past three Summer Games, but it has never won the individual men's top prize. Im will be looking to change that in London.
Viktor Ruban of the Ukraine took home the gold from Beijing's 2008 Olympic Games for his performance in the individual men's round. He will be looking to repeat in 2012. Zhang Juanjuan did the same in the individual women's round in 2008 to give China its first ever Olympic gold medal in archery.
Brady Ellison will be looking to challenge for the gold medal for the USA in the men's individual competition. Ellison comes into the Summer Games ranked as the world's top male archer at the age of 23. The American archer lost in the second round of the 2008 games as a 19-year old, but he has won 35-of-37 international matches in the last two years.
Jake Kaminski and Jacob Wukie also both qualified for the U.S. team. Kaminski is ranked second in the nation and Wukie closed out the trials season ranked third in the U.S.
Miranda Leek earned the chance to represent her country in the Olympics with an exceptional round at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the spring. Khatuna Loris and two-time Olympian Jennifer Nichols also booked their ticket to London by finishing in the top three at the qualifying event.
Crispin Dienas and Marie-Pier Beaudet were the only two qualifiers in the archery event for the Canadian team. Dienas won the right to compete in the games after winning the men's competition at the Olympic trials, while Beaudet won the women's continental qualification event and the Canadian trials to qualify.
The archery event begins Friday, July 27 and will conclude August 3. All archery competitions will be held at Lord's Cricket Ground in London in front of a temporary stand built to accommodate 6,500 spectators.