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SAMSUN, Turkey - After traveling the world from Shanghai, China to Antalya, Turkey, Salt Lake City, USA, Berlin, Germany, Brady Ellison punched his ticket to the prestigious Archery World Cup Final.
Ellison has appeared at every edition of the World Cup Final since 2010 and with his previous eight appearances he had had seven podium finishes, including an unsurpassed four Champion titles and silver in 2017. Making an historic ninth appearance, qualifying for this event was an honor in itself, but also no surprise.
"I've actually been kind of struggling," Ellison told TeamUSA.org prior to the competition. "I was able to make the World Cup Final again, and I feel it was kind of a blessing that I made it." Ellison's struggle comes from an old finger injury that has been flaring over the past two years and affecting Ellison's technique and ability to train.
Undeterred, the veteran archer added: "I want to win it. You know, always want to win it. I hope to get on the podium. At this point in time, being as fortunate as I have been with the career that I've had, you're always wanting to - and half-expecting to - win everything you go to, but it just hasn't been happening for me lately. That expectation is there and I know if I make a good run that I'm still good enough to be able to go do it."
In a creative change to the event format this year, only the top two archers in each division earned an automatic seed in the brackets - seeds for archers 3-8 were randomly selected at a live draw the Thursday before competition.
Ellison, who qualified on points following a notable silver finish at stage one in Shanghai drew world ranked No. 78, Fatih Bolzar, of Turkey, who was an invitee of the host nation for a chance at his biggest competition stage to date.
Keeping it all in the yellow, and mostly the 10 ring, Ellison never opened the door for Bolzar to take an advantage. Though the archers split the second set, Ellison took a decisive 7-1 win to advance and secure a spot in the medal matches.
Ellison's second match was a battle of wills against top seed Lee Woo Seok of Korea, with both archers shooting incredibly consistent shots, all in the center-most rings. Going four sets, Ellison posted all 28s with the exception of a perfect 30 in the second, where Lee scored all 29s except for a 30 in the third set to take the 6-2 win.
In an instant classic matchup Ellison immediately returned to the stage to go head to head for bronze with Australia's Taylor Worth. In four matches with Worth in the past, Ellison had only taken one win, but he opened with a perfect 30, which Worth matched 10 for 10 to split the first set. Ellison held strong, drilling more 10s to shut Worth out of the second set after he scored a 9 and 8, taking the lead 3-1. Approaching the line confidently, Ellison suffered an 8 but recovered quickly and matched Worth's 28 to split the set points. Worth took the fifth set to force a shoot off. Ellison shot first and scored a beautiful 10. Worth couldn't match it and Ellison took the win and the bronze.
Ellison commented: "I was really happy with how I shot today. I think it was probably the three best matches I've shot all year: consistent, lots of 10s and I wasn't that nervous surprisingly. I had a day yesterday where I was in bed all day, sick, and so the fact that I was able to come out here and shoot as well as I did, I'm happy with it."
He continued: "The weather conditions were perfect, there was hardly any wind and you could see it in the scores. In my semifinal match, it took a 30 to win a set - probably the highest level shooting out of the recurve men all year. I've made 9 of these things, this is my 8th medal, and I'm just fortunate and happy I was able to shoot so good and that last arrow went in the 10!"
Photo: World Archery
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