Riau Ega Agatha: The archer who upset the Olympic favourite

23 April 2018
Shanghai (CHN)
The Indonesian archer was the architect of Kim Woojin’s defeat at Rio 2016.

No archer is unbeatable. 

Riau Ega Agatha was proof of that at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, when he entered the arena to face the favourite, Kim Woojin of Korea.

Then 24 years old, the Indonesian athlete had qualified 33rd, while world-number-one-ranked Kim was seeded first overall with a world record 700 out of 720 points for the 70-metre ranking round.

“I was scared because I had to compete with the best archer in the world. Before the competition, I was thinking ‘how can I win?’, and I tried to imagine the match,” recalled Riau Ega. 

“I tried to shoot a 10, but I couldn’t; in my mind, Kim was shooting 10, 10, 10, 10…”

In the waiting room he was shaking. Stepping onto the line he felt like he lost all his power, he said, and had to slap his arms to get himself into the moment.

The match started with a 29-27 point set win for the Korean, but then things changed.

Kim shot a wide seven – and his young challenger responded by taking the second set by a point, 28-27. It got worse for the on-paper stronger archer when he put three eights down in the third set – and three nines in the fourth wasn’t enough.

“I relaxed, enjoyed the game, and thought that maybe I could win,” said Agatha. And win he did, 6-2, causing a major upset of the top end of the brackets.

“I didn’t expect it at the start, but it was a great experience for me.”

Riau Ega would subsequently be dispatched by Mauro Nespoli in Rio, and then France’s Jean-Charles Valladont beat the Italian archer on his road to the silver medal.

Not the fairytale ending for Agatha, who finished ninth overall, but an impressive match win on his record.

Aside from that fateful match at the Games, the full-time archer (and self-proclaimed part-time team comedian) has also climbed the Hyundai Archery World Cup podium, taking individual bronze in Shanghai back in 2015.

He’s an apparent matchplay threat, and with the Asian Games upcoming in Jakarta in the summer of 2018, one to watch.

“I try to imagine how I will shoot in the Asian Games. I do a lot of visualisation in my mind,” he said.

“This year, my team is really fun – so I’m really happy all the time. I train six days a week and I’m looking forward to the Asian Games, and hopefully I can win a medal.”

Maybe Jakarta will bring a Riau Ega Agatha versus Kim Woojin rematch. Maybe not.

But two years on from producing one of the most dramatic moments of the Olympic archery competition in Rio de Janeiro, Riau Ega Agatha knows anybody is beatable.

“I’m a good archer because I’m not scared. Well, maybe sometimes. But, usually, I see that he is like me,” he said.

“If he can do, I can do.”

The first stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup takes place in Shanghai, China on 23-29 April.

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