Fri, Aug 03 2012 04:55 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The 2012 U.S. men’s archery team was hailed as the best American squad in more than a decade by knowledgeable observers in the sport and the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center trio of Brady Ellison, Jacob Wukie and Jake Kaminski proved that by winning the silver medal in Olympic team competition last Saturday in London.
It could easily have been gold.
The U.S. team entered the final round with a nine-point lead over Italy. It was up to Michele Frangilli, the Italians’ final shooter, to determine where the two teams finished on the placement of the final arrow to be shot in the competition on the field at the Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Anything less than a nine would give the Americans their long sought-after gold medal. A 10 would give Italy the gold.
By the narrowest of margins, Frangilli’s arrow lodged itself just inside the colored area marking a bulls-eye.
Italy won 219-218.
America’s self-described “Band of Brothers” settled for silver. It was the first Olympic medal for the United States since 2000 (and the best since 1996 when the U.S. won gold). It was also the first Olympic medal captured by an American team at the 2012 London Games.
Ellison, who entered the XXX Olympiad as the world’s No. 1-ranked male archer, called winning the silver medal an “honor,” adding that it was hopefully a “good sign for a great (Olympic) Games for the U.S.”
Ellison, 23, said he and his American teammates were “happy to be the front-runners” for the 529-member strong U.S. team, and, in his words, happy “to lead the charge.”
Chula Vista Olympic Training Center director Tracy Lamb said he hoped the Olympic medal showing would further help spur youth development programs already in existence at the local training complex.
“All of us here at the training center are just excited for our resident archers, and we congratulate them on this Olympic achievement,” Lamb said. “We just hope that this outstanding performance by Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Jacob Wukie continues to encourage young area kids to get involved in the sport of archery.”
Three-time defending Olympic champion South Korea again rated the team to beat at the London Games. Some observers predicted the South Koreans, led by Im Dong-hyun and Kim Bub-min, both of whom broke the previous world record in the rankings round with scores of 699 and 698 points, respectively, out of a possible 720, to be invincible.
As fate would have it, the Americans, despite a slow start, eliminated the Koreans in the semifinals, 224-219, to effectively slay the proverbial dragon.
Kaminski and Wukie both shot 10s in the final three rounds.
While Ellison, Wukie and Kaminski might not have been surprised — after all, the Americans were ranked No. 1 in the world entering the Olympics — it was left up to the more mature Italians to shoot the magic arrow.
Swirling winds in the final round played havoc with shots at times. Kaminski’s final arrow against Italy went for an eight — not a 10 as in previous rounds.
The Chula Vista archers then stood and watched, not necessarily wishing the Italians bad luck but simply awaiting their destiny.
The Americans ended last Friday’s opening day of competition in the two-day team archery shoot ranked fourth. Ellison was 10th best among individuals.
But the team’s camaraderie and focus came together when it mattered most on the final day, with the U.S. defeating Japan in the quarterfinals (by one point) to draw the powerful South Koreans.
The Koreans entered the match against the U.S. after setting an Olympic record with 227 points in a quarterfinal victory against the Ukraine, scoring 13 bulls-eyes.
South Korea captured its seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal after defeating silver medalist China 210-209. Japan earned the bronze medal.
The American team of Miranda Leek, Khatuna Lorig and Jennifer Nichols advanced as far as the quarterfinals before losing to China 218-213.
The U.S. women had finished last Saturday’s ranking round in second, so the quarterfinal exit was a bit of a disappointment after performing so well in the final month of Olympic qualifying.
The Americans trailed China by just one point heading into the final round but the Chinese fired five consecutive 10s to earn the win.
Americans shot down in individual rounds
Archers lined up again on Tuesday and Wednesday in order to determine individual medals at the London Games. The U.S. men’s team again made headlines, though of somewhat dubious nature as Ellison and the rest of his band of brothers were eliminated in the Round of 16.
Ellison’s departure from the tournament had to be the shocker of the individual shoot after he was eliminated 7-1 in set points (112-106 in overall scoring) by Australia’s Taylor Worth, who entered the Olympics ranked 44th in the world.
Wukie also lost in the Round of 16 (6-2 to Norway’s Baard Nesteng) while Kaminski lost his opening match to Moldova’s Dan Olaru to leave the Americans without representation in the semifinals.
Lorig, a five-time Olympian, advanced to Thursday’s bronze medal match, dropping a 6-2 score to Mexico’s Mariana Avitia to finish fourth to lead the U.S. women.
Lorig advanced to Thursday’s Round of 8 after defeating Bhutan’s Sherab Zam and Denmark’s Louise Laursen. However, American teammates Leek and Nichols, despite winning their opening matches, did not advance past the second round.
Lorig topped France’s Berengere Schuh by a 6-2 score in the quarterfinals but lost 6-2 against South Korea’s Ki Bo-Bae in the semifinals.
Lorig won a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games while competing for the Soviet Unified Team and represented Georgia in both the 1996 and 2000 Games.
She became a naturalized American citizen and represented the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Games, earning the honor of holding the American flag during the closing ceremonies.
Nichols was making her third Olympic appearance.
Ellison was looking to improve significantly from his 27th-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Games.
A USOC press release was used in preparing this story.
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