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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - U.S. archers setting sights on the 2016 Olympic Games caught a glimpse of the competition to come as they took on the world's hottest competition at the Aquece Rio International Archery Challenge at the Sambodromo.
Fierce competition made for challenging matches and some of the tightest scores in recent Olympic history. Modern archery was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1972, and for the first two cycles, U.S. women took the individual Champion titles and team bronze in 1988. Since then, the Olympic podium has evaded them.
Now, with an incredibly strong pool of female competitors in the U.S. a medal finish is reach for 2016. Although the nation has yet to secure slots for a full team, they proved they are in the front of the line for the remaining quota spaces.
After making history with their first ever Archery World Cup Stage gold in Wroclaw earlier this summer and finishing 4th as a team here in Rio, five-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig (West Hollywood, California), Mackenzie Brown (Flint, Texas), and LaNola Pritchard (Lehi, Utah) are on fire.
Brown commented: "We were excited about the way we shot. We shot really well as a team; all three of us are very used to shooting with each other. It was just like any other day where we practice team rounds together. As for securing our other spots, I'm really confident, especially since we won in Poland and then took the bronze in Colombia, and now coming over here it was just really exciting to see that we're continuing to move in that direction."
Brown, at just 20 years old, is sitting in first for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials process after the first nomination shoot. Really coming out of the woodwork this season, Brown has been racking up podium finishes and just qualified for her first Archery World Cup Final next month.
On target for great success, Brown clinched the bronze yesterday at the Test Event, shocking many with her poise and top performances in intense heat and wind. "This is really exciting for me," Brown commented, "Being able to come and get a win in the Olympic stadium is really big, knowing what it's like. I am definitely excited to see what happens next year."
Teammate Lorig was upset in the first round 6-2 by Marin of Spain, while Pritchard climbed from a 36th place seed to the top 32, falling 6-0 in the second round of eliminations.
For the men, 2012 Olympic silver medalists Jake Kaminski (Gainesville, Florida) and Brady Ellison (Globe, Arizona) were joined by young, up and coming star Collin Klimitchek (Victoria, Texas). Kaminski had the strongest run in Rio, making the top 16 by upsetting the 9th seed from Russia.
Klimitchek, who qualified highest for the trio with the 14th seed, was upset early in the 1/16th in a close match, while Ellison was stopped 6-4 in an even tighter 1/32nd match. The team, seeded 7th also faced an untimely upset in the first round with a 5-3 loss to Italy - a rematch of the 2012 Olympic Final.
With another year left on the Road to Rio, anything can happen, including lineup changes as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials continue, but one thing is sure: Team USA is hot on the medal trail and will be a force to be reckoned with at this field again next year. Complete results from the event can be found here. For more, follow USA Archery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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