Htwe San Yu cements Myanmar’s bracket-busting reputation

Myanmar’s Htwe San Yu, who arrived in Rio on a Tripartite invitation, seeded 51st on the ranking round at the Olympic Games before upsetting higher-ranked competitors Taru Kuoppa and Mackenzie Brown in the first two elimination rounds.

On women’s finals day, she faced reigning Olympic Champion Ki Bo Bae in the third round.

“I was very excited to shoot against a Korean archer, even more an Olympic Champion,” she said. “That's why my performance today was very bad compared to the other matches, I was too excited.”

Htwe had the best start, shooting 9-10 to Ki’s 8-10.

The Olympic Champion finished with a nine, though, while the archer from Myanmar posted a seven, and Ki took a lead she wouldn’t relinquish. Ki Bo Bae won the match, 6-0.

In the second set, Htwe missed the target with her second arrow. It fell low, rebounding off the casing of the electronic scoreboard.

“I felt like my technique was a little wrong, so I tried to repair and I shot a miss. I panicked,” she explained.

“I'm happy to get this far and face the Olympic Champion. It is a great experience, I've learnt a lot to be with such high level athletes. This time is my first time. I will go back and practice again to compete again and do my best for Tokyo 2020.”

Htwe was one of seven athletes from Myanmar across five sports competing at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The nation has competed in each Olympic archery event since 2000.

In London in 2012, Myo Aung Nay pulled off a huge upset in the first round, knocking out ninth seed Romain Girouille in the men’s competition. With Htwe’s results against higher seeds in Rio, Myanmar’s archers might have forged themselves a reputation as bracket busters in the Olympic archery event.

Myanmar’s national archery team consists of 10 men and 10 women, all full-time athletes supported by the government, practising Monday to Saturday each week.

“We need to train mentally and physically in order to catch the high level of Korea,” Htwe San Yu said.

The next multi-sport event on team Myanmar’s calendar is the South East Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.

The women’s individual finals take place on 11 August at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.