Brady Ellison, the top-ranked U.S. archer for much of the last decade and once No. 1 in the world, finally has a global championship.
Ellison, a 30-year-old with three Olympic medals (but none gold) became the first American to win an individual world title in archery’s Olympic discipline — recurve — since 1985 in ‘S-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, on Sunday.
“I’ve always wanted it so bad, and then just I’d get there and make a little mistake and go out in the quarters and don’t give myself the chance,” Ellison said, according to USA Archery. “I shot good here, I’ve been shooting good all year and it just hasn’t sunk in yet. I’ll start crying soon.”
Ellison needed a tiebreaking shoot-off in the final against Malaysian Khairul Anuar Mohamad to grab that first gold. He delivered a perfect arrow for a 10-8 win.
Ellison entered the 2012 London Games as the world’s top-ranked archer but was eliminated in the round of 32. He helped the U.S. to team silver earlier in the Games. Ellison came to Rio ranked sixth in the world and left with individual bronze (missing the gold-medal match via semifinal shoot-off) and another team silver.
The last American to earn an Olympic archery title was Justin Huish, the ponytailed, backwards-cap wearing phenom who swept individual and team titles at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
“Now I need that Olympic gold medal,” Ellison said, according to USA Archery. “And I’m going to get it next year.”
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Four years after suffering a stunning defeat in the Round of 32, American archer Brady Ellison redeemed himself in Rio.
After falling in the semifinal round to eventual gold medalist Ku Bon-chan of South Korea Ellison bounced back, beating Sjef van den Berg of the Netherlands to take bronze. Ellison completed the win in four sets, winning those by scores of 27-26, 26-27, 30-28 and 28-25 to take a 6-2 victory (archers are awarded two points for a set win, one apiece for a tie).
The individual bronze is Ellison’s second medal of these Olympics, as he, Zach Garrett and Jake Kaminski combined to take silver in the team competition.
The gold medal match between Ku and France’s Jean-Charles Valladont went five sets, with Ku winning by the final tally of 7-3. After Ku won the first two sets Valladont bounced back with scores of 29 in each of the next two sets, making the score 5-3 heading into the fifth set. Ku would win that set 27-26, thus clinching his first individual Olympic gold medal after taking gold in the team competition.
The first four U.S. Olympic archers for Rio are known, while Khatuna Lorig will learn in three weeks if she makes her sixth Olympic team.
A full men’s team of 2012 Olympic team silver medalists Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski and first-time Olympian Zach Garrett earned their spots at the U.S. Olympic Trials that ended Monday.
Mackenzie Brown clinched her first Olympic berth by winning the women’s trials Monday.
The U.S. can send two more women to Rio if it qualifies a full team at a World Cup event in Turkey in three weeks. Those two women would be Hye Youn Park and Lorig.
Lorig, 42, is best known for teaching archery to Jennifer Lawrence before “The Hunger Games.” Lorig also competed in the 1992 Olympics for the Unified Team, the 1996 and 2000 Games for Georgia and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics for the U.S.
Lorig earned team bronze at Barcelona 1992 and finished fifth and fourth individually at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
The U.S. Olympic team alternates are Daniel McLaughlin and La Nola Pritchard.
MORE: Full list of athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team