‘She is young and fears nothing’ – Furukawa’s high praise for Azusa

Takaharu Furukawa and Yamauchi Azusa shoot at Kindai University in Osaka, Japan.

Takaharu Furukawa hasn’t missed an Olympics since Athens 2004, when his teammate, Hiroshi Yamamoto, became the second Japanese man to win a silver medal in the history of the archery competition. Eight years later, in London, Furukawa became the third.

“He has been competing at a top level for a long time,” said Yamauchi Azusa, the youngest member of the current Japanese archery team at 22 years of age.

She was five years old when Furukawa made his debut at the Games. 

“When you have an experienced top archer around you, it keeps your motivation high.”

Furukawa and Azusa, aged 14 years apart, are on the opposite ends of their respective Olympic journeys: the former at his fifth Olympics, the latter making her debut at the Games. Yet their gap in age and experience does not hinder their relationship as teammates. 

While the elder Furukawa has coached Azusa at Kindai University in Osaka, both archers said they consider the other to be a peer. Nowhere would that be more evident than if they competed together in the mixed team event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

“Since it’s my first time competing at the Olympics, it is quite hard for me to have an image of the Games and how to prepare for what the atmosphere will be like on the day of the competition,” Azusa said. “Having an Olympian in the same club who can share his experience is a good environment to get advice and clarify my goal.”

Japan and Korea celebrate at leg one of the Gwangju 2021 Asia Cup

Furukawa, now 36 years old, is the oldest member of Japan’s archery delegation after surviving a ruthless selection process to represent his country on home soil. 

Azusa was ranked third among the Japanese women when the final team was announced in March. She is easily the least-experienced of the six athletes, but Furukawa nonetheless expressed confidence that she will be ready to compete on the world’s biggest stage.

“She is young and fears nothing,” Furukawa said earlier this year, before it was announced that the public wouldn't be permitted to attend the Olympics. “This can be a strength to compete at the Games. I hope the cheering from the spectators makes her confident.”

Like many coaches who are former athletes, Furukawa uses his experience as a competitor to inform his tutelage on the field. His coaching aspirations, however, have been put on hold after shifting his attention to that of a shooter focusing on his own preparations for the Games.

The veteran intended on retiring after Tokyo, but now he’s looking to compete through to 2024 and the Olympics in Paris, given that they’re just three years away. Coaching has taken a back seat; he estimates that 99% of his time is spent on his own shooting these days, though he still takes pride in leading by example. 

While he still hopes to reach the medal stand individually on home soil, he is also invested in sharing that joy with his teammates as well. 

“One of the fascinating things in sports is the experience of success by winning,” Furukawa said. “I want people to experience this feeling: feeling the power of sport that crosses all borders. I am in a position to share these experiences, which should help with the development of future generations.”

Japan at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

As of the results of the final trials on Sunday 21 March 2021.


  • Yuki Kawata
  • Takaharu Furukawa
  • Hiroki Muto
  • Hideki Kikuchi (reserve)


  • Ren Hayakawa
  • Miki Nakamura
  • Azusa Yamauchi
  • Ohashi Tomoka (reserve)
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