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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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.
Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.
Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.
Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.
The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.
The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.
“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”
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Matt Stutzman, the U.S. Paralympic archer born without arms profiled across major media, is already looking ahead after being eliminated in the round of 16 by one point in Rio.
“Next up is Tokyo 2020, and that’s what I have to start thinking about,” Stutzman, 33, said following a 142-141 loss on Wednesday after placing fourth overall in the ranking round. “Days like today, they happen.”
Four years ago, Stutzman qualified as the top seed into the London Paralympic bracket rounds and took silver, losing in the final against Finland’s Jere Forsberg, who competed in a wheelchair but with both arms.
On Wednesday, Stutzman finished three wins shy of a medal. He said before his elimination that his aim next year is able-bodied archery.
“In the U.S. you have to decide to shoot para- or able-bodied archery. You can’t do both,” he said, according to World Archery. “I want to make the World Cup team, shoot with Reo [Wilde] and [three-time Olympic medalist] Brady [Ellison] and those guys. My focus next year is able-bodied archery. So I won’t be doing para events next year. To be the best I have to shoot with the best in the world. Not that people here aren’t good, because they’re excellent, but my goals are World Cups, baby.”
Stutzman competes in compound archery at the Paralympics, and though only recurve is done at the Olympics, other international able-bodied competitions include both compound and recurve.
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