Italy wins first-ever archery gold
LONDON -- On the final arrow, the U.S. lost Olympic gold in men's team archery.
The Americans were still thrilled to win the first U.S. medal at the London Games.
Italy topped the trio of Brady Ellison, Jacob Wukie and Jake Kaminski by one point on Saturday for the team gold, while South Korea took the bronze.
"I wasn't disappointed that we got a silver. I was, on the inside, very, very ecstatic that we became Olympic medalists," Ellison said. "The more it's around my neck, I mean, this thing has some weight to it. It sets in. We are Olympic medalists -- and it doesn't matter the color."
Michele Frangilli, Marco Galiazzo and Mauro Nespoli hugged and raised their hands in celebration after the final arrow from Frangilli beat the Americans 219-218 at Lord's Cricket Ground. The gold was Italy's first in the event.
Frangilli, who was part of a team bronze in 1996 and won silver in Sydney four years later, called the final a "very hard fought" match.
"I have been chasing this medal for 16 years," he said through a translator.
"With the last arrow that hit, I think it was my dream. I think it was my biggest contribution."
The Americans said that even though they still have individual competition remaining, they came to London focused on the team competition, simply because they thought sharing in the experience of winning a medal would be more powerful to the group than taking one individually.
"We've worked so hard prior to this to build a strong team and to train as a team," Wukie said. "And so, obviously, it paid off."
And the significance of being the first American medalists at the 2012 Games was not lost on them.
"If that's all we're known for for the rest of our lives ... I think we'll all be pretty proud of that," Ellison said.
Toward the end of the gripping final, Frangilli said he heard the crowd noise after Galiazzo scored an eight on his last shot. When Frangilli stepped up for his final shot there was "incredible pressure" and he tried to "empty his head a little bit," knowing he needed a 10 for the victory.
"I really tried to find the right technique, and I knew I hit the golden area," he said. "When I heard 10, I was obviously very, very happy."
In their victory over South Korea in the semifinal, the Americans started slowly but were able to come back, 224-219. Not the case against the Italians. The Americans pulled within 165-163 at the end of the third round.
"For some reason it's just kind of something we've been doing lately," Ellison said, referring to recent slow starts, adding that three of the Americans' arrows missed a 10-score by a quarter inch.
Italy beat Mexico 217-215 to make the final. The top-ranked South Koreans beat Mexico 224-219 for their bronze after falling to the Americans by five points in the semifinals. South Korea was led by Im Dong-hyun, the visually impaired archer who set the first world record of the games Friday, breaking his own mark in the 72-arrow event and helping to set a team record in the opening round.
One thing that surprised the Americans: Yes, those Olympic medals have some heft. Ellison quipped that he "could do a workout with this thing," as his teammates looked down at the medals dangling from their necks.
And apparently they'll all keep them in the same place: Their respective sock drawers.
"It's not all that life is about," Kaminski said. "It's something that I'm going to keep close to me. And I don't need to shout about it."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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