Shooting star: Archer Brady Ellison aims at Tokyo gold with arm pain gone

Brady Ellison
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In between remodeling his archery workshop and raising piglets, Brady Ellison shoots about 100 arrows a day on his custom-built range.

That’s not very high volume for him. He’s scaled way back with the coronavirus pandemic postponing the Tokyo Games until next summer and his season on hold.

This is the promising part: No shooting pain.

A little while back, the three-time Olympic medalist felt searing discomfort through his right arm whenever he released an arrow.

Doctors couldn’t solve it. He couldn’t shoot through it. He nearly quit and went to work at a local copper mine in Arizona.

Now gold in Tokyo is back in the picture.

His comeback will be highlighted in an upcoming documentary and features a Hollywood-esque twist: A natural healer in Slovenia helped alleviate his pain to the point where he became the world champion.

“I went from looking for jobs and quitting archery to believing I’m going to win in Tokyo,” the 31-year-old Ellison said in a phone interview from his six-acre property in Globe, Arizona, where he’s waiting for the season to resume. “I now have more drive than I’ve ever had.”

Usually around this time of year, Ellison is shooting 300 arrows each day on a range he built with a tractor and features 50- and 70-meter targets.

Instead, he’s scaled back the shooting and is taking care of house projects. He rebuilt the wood floor in his workshop, which also serves as his indoor facility. It’s actually two sheds pushed close together in which he simply opens the doors to both in order to shoot.

He’s also tending to a litter of piglets and squeezing in some bow fishing.

Anything to pass the time until competitions start back up. He’s not feeling the crunch even though he relies on events for about 70% of his income. Over the years, he’s been financially savvy with his earnings.

“I’ve always said that if I get hurt or anything, I want to still be able to pay all my bills and lose nothing if I have to go get a job at McDonald’s,” he said.

Ellison sees himself competing through the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, if not longer.

Especially now, with his arm back to feeling better.

Shortly after capturing an Olympic bronze medal in the individual event at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, along with silver during the team competition, Ellison began experiencing pain in one of his fingers.

Steadily, it grew worse as the pain radiated from his fingertips through his arm.

“Felt like bolts of lighting when I shot,” he said.

The discomfort persisted into 2017 and ’18. He consulted medical experts and hand specialists.

“The doctors, they pretty much just all told me to quit,” said Ellison, who also earned a silver in the team event at the 2012 London Games.

His wife, Toja, competes in archery for Slovenia and heard of a natural healer back home. The healer specialized in helping those with thyroid conditions, which Ellison has dealt with and for which he takes medication. He went in the fall of 2018 for that reason.

He never mentioned his arm concerns.

First consultation: “He told me that I had an injury in my right hand,” Ellison said.

Ellison said the process was simple. The healer put his hands on Ellison’s arm/hand and he almost instantly felt relief.

“Three days later I shot more arrows in a single day than I have in three years,” said Ellison, who still visits the healer when he and his wife return to Slovenia. “No pain.”

In 2019, Ellison turned in a memorable season that included a world title and a return to the No. 1 spot in the world rankings for the first time since March 2013.

“In the back of your head, you’re a little afraid (the pain) could happen again,” Ellison said. “So you make every day count while you can. I didn’t take anything for granted like before.”

An image of Ellison went viral on social media during the Rio Games. A picture of a bearded Ellison ran alongside a shot of actor Leonardo DiCaprio from the movie “The Revenant.”

The resemblance was spot on. He was asked almost as much about that as his medals.

“All of a sudden people just showed up at the field and I’m asked, ‘Hey, what do you think about the comparisons with him?’” recalled Ellison. “And then I looked it up and I’m like, ‘OK, this really became a thing.’ It’s all fun.”

Now, there’s even more in common with DiCaprio: Both appear in movies.

World Archery followed Ellison last season for a film titled “Believe: Brady Ellison.” He hasn’t seen an edited version, but has watched the trailer of the documentary due out this summer.

He gives it a thumbs up.

“Hopefully it will get a lot of hits since no sporting events are going on right now,” Ellison said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing it.”

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Sweden weighs 2030 Winter Olympic bid after IOC meeting

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Sweden’s Olympic leaders are weighing up whether to bid for the Winter Games in 2030.

The Nordic country’s potential entry into the race to stage the 2030 Games comes at a time when the International Olympic Committee has delayed the process and is searching around for more contenders to host the event.

Sapporo, Japan, was considered the favorite before an ongoing bid-rigging scandal related to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo held in 2021. Salt Lake City is the only other known bidder that might consider taking 2030, though officials have said they favor a bid for 2034.

A joint Stockholm-Are bid from Sweden lost out to another shared bid, from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy, to stage the Winter Games in 2026 amid a lack of clear public support in Sweden and some government upheaval at local and national level in the run-up to the vote.

There was reportedly discontent in Stockholm over how the Swedish bid was treated in the contest for the 2026 Games.

The Swedish Olympic and Paralympic Committees and the Swedish Sports Confederation will start a feasibility study for 2030, they said Wednesday. A report from the study will be presented on April 20.

“These are new times now and the feasibility study will show how the Olympics and Paralympics can be shaped based on Sweden’s conditions,” said Anders Larsson, acting chairman of the Swedish Olympic Committee. “We already have virtually all the arenas required to arrange the largest Winter Games.”

The committee’s secretary general, Åsa Edlund Jönsson, said the 2030 Games “could be a campfire to rally Sweden around.”

“The idea is to review the concept that existed for the candidacy in 2026, which would mean competitions in several places in Sweden,” Jönsson said, specifically referencing Stockholm and the regions of Dalarna and Jämtland. “Here we feel confident that there is great experience in arranging world-class winter championships in the Swedish sports movement.”

The Stockholm-Are bid for 2026 even included plans to stage ice-sliding sports across the Baltic Sea at a venue in Latvia to avoid building a white elephant venue in Sweden — a key demand of IOC reforms to cut Olympic hosting costs.

The idea of Sweden potentially joining the 2030 race came up at a meeting in Lausanne in January.

“We have had a meeting with the IOC that was about, without obligation from any quarter, looking at the Games in 2030,” Larsson said. “During that meeting, it was clear that the IOC liked our concept for 2026. What the feasibility study will provide answers to is whether we are ready to move forward in the process.”

Sweden hosted the Summer Olympics in 1912 but never a Winter Games, despite the country being an established giant in winter sports.

It has made eight failed bids to stage the Winter Games.

Gunilla Lindberg, who is on the Swedish Olympic Committee, is also an IOC member and on its panel tasked with finding potential future hosts for the Winter Games.

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USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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