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August 12, 2008

Lorig Advances, Nichols Out in Women's Archery Elimination Round

U.S. archer Khatuna Lorig (West Hollywood, Calif. / Chula Vista, Calif.) advanced to the quarterfinals of the women's Individual Elimination Round with two victories on Tuesday morning at the Beijing Olympic Green Archery Field at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Teammate Jenny Nichols (Cheyenne, Wyo.) wasn't as fortunate, losing in the Round of 16 later in the afternoon.

The 26th seed, Lorig scored a 107-105 victory over #39 seed Virginie Arnold of France and a 112-109 victory over #7 seed Alison Williamson of Great Britain.

Lorig, competing in her fourth Olympic Games - but first for the United States - was consistently strong through both matches, scoring just four eights among the 24 arrows. Against Williamson, a five-time Olympian and bronze medalist in Athens in 2004, Lorig just missed the Olympic record of 114 points. At one point she scored four 10s on five shots. She finished the round with six 10s out of the 12 arrows.

"I've been waiting for eight years to be here, to be here where I am right now. So, you have to enjoy every moment and try to stay positive," said Lorig, who just missed qualifying for the 2004 Games in Athens for her native country of Georgia. "I'm already the luckiest person in the world to be in the Olympics. I can't say more than that."

Lorig competed for the Republic of Georgia at the 1996 Olympic Games in Athens and won a bronze medal in the team event for the Unified Soviet Team at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Competing now as an American made the day even more special. "This is the United States, the best country in the world. When I was shooting I was looking at the flag, getting this strong feeling. We are strong, so I am going to be strong."

That attitude was necessary since Lorig admits some nerves set in during her second match. She even had to bring her bow down on a few occasions to re-focus.

"Everybody's nervous. As long as you're not scared to shoot your shot, a strong shot. Trust in God. That's all you can do," she said. "I knew [Alison] was one of the strongest archers in the world and I knew I had to go out there and get strong shots. I could give her confidence if I had one bad shot. So I tried to stay in myself and trust myself to shoot a strong shot. I'm happy."

Lorig's attention now turns to Thursday's quarterfinals match against #10 seed Ana Maria Rendon of Colombia. The match is set to start at 10:56.

"[Tomorrow] I'm going to practice with my teammate Jenny," she said. "It's a stronger athlete I'm facing now. But to be in the top three, you have to beat the strongest ones. So, I have to do it, stay strong."

The 24th seeded Nichols had advanced through the first round after tying an Olympic record with a score of 114 (out of 120) in a 114-101 victory over #41 seed Ika Yuliana Rochmawati of Indonesia. But her day and second-straight Olympics appearance was over after a 105-103 defeat at the hands of #9 seed Nami Hayakawa of Japan just moments later.

"It's funny. My shot felt the same in the second match as it did in the first," said Nichols, the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials gold medalist. "It's a tough break; it's hard to be out. But, you know, I think it was really meant to be. I obviously have more work to do."

Despite being out of the tournament, Nichols had consolation in knowing her name was in the record books. "I was just shooting one arrow at a time. I didn't even know what my score was, didn't know what her score was," she said of her record-tying round. "I was kind of in a little bit of a haze, but I knew what I needed to focus on and that's what I was doing."

Remaining event schedule for the U.S. Team:

Wed, August 13: Men's Individual Elimination Round (1/32 and 1/16)
Thurs, August 14: Women's Individual (Quarters, Semis, Bronze Medal and Gold Medal Matches)
Fri, August 15: Men's Individual (Quarters, Semis, Bronze Medal and Gold Medal Matches)

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