Whenever Japanese archer Takaharu Furukawa competes at a major international tournament, the Olympian always aims for a place in the last eight.
“It’s probably not quite what you want to hear, but I’ll be aiming to make the best eight at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” he said.
Furukawa has competed at four consecutive Olympic Games since Athens 2004.
While his target of only making it to the quarter-finals may sound somewhat odd it is because of his London 2012 silver medal in the men’s individual event.
Most people would expect it is only natural for Furukawa to aim to go one better at Tokyo 2020 Games after coming so close before, but the veteran archer doesn’t let the expectations of others affect his mindset.
“This is my usual approach to competitions,” he said.
“At international tournaments, my aim is to achieve a consistently steady performance and target a place in the last eight.
“If I put pressure on myself to target a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games, I’m afraid the pressure might become too much and end up having the opposite effect.
“That’s the reason I won’t be targeting a medal at the initial stage. I’ll treat the Olympics just the same way as I approach any other international competition, and hopefully the result will take care of itself.”
The world no.12’s mindset stems from his past experiences.
At the Beijing 2008 Games, he put too much pressure on himself to perform well and ended up losing in the first round so after reflecting on his experience, for the London 2012 Games he decided to take a different approach.
It helped him to take a more relaxed approach to his matches.
The new approach worked – he won match after match, and before he knew it, Furukawa was in the final where he eventually claim silver, which was just Japan’s fourth medal in the event.
Furukawa competed at the READY STEADY TOKYO Archery Test Event which allowed him to get a taste of the conditions he can expect at Tokyo 2020.
“I feel the test events are valuable opportunity in allowing the competitors to gain a feel for the atmosphere at the venue and for the wind conditions,” he said.
“The atmosphere at the venue for the archery competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Games is excellent, and I felt really comfortable shooting my arrows there.”
Aiming to consistently reproduce his form
In August, Furukawa turned 35 and with his record of having appeared in four consecutive Olympic Games, he is Japan’s leading archer. He puts his success down to his relentless practice. Furukawa practices from 9:00a.m. to 6:00p.m. and shoots between 400–450 arrows every day.
“When I’m at the shooting line, I’m really focused, but other than that I’m pretty relaxed,” he said.
The attractions of archery
There’s a lot more to the sport of archery than meets the eye, but from the spectator’s viewpoint what are the main attractions?
When we put this question to Furukawa, he quickly replied, “Archery is 95 per cent about the mental battle.”
“In contrast to most other sports, archery is all about minimising physical movement,” he said.
“If the archer moves their body the slightest extent when firing off an arrow, so if the archer is feeling tense, it may cause their hand to shake slightly, and can also upset the line of vision but some archers don’t show any outward signs of nerves, even when they’re feeling the tension inside.”
At the moment, Furukawa is vying for one of three men’s individual archery spots in Japan’s 2020 Olympic Team.