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August 06, 2011

U.S. Recurvers Three Times Golden at World Cup

Ogden, Utah - Brady Ellison (AZ/USA), the young Arizona native and archery superstar, last night became the first archer in history to win three consecutive World Cup stages. No stranger to pressure, the 2008 Olympian shot his gold medal match successfully versus Dmytro Hrachov (UKR), giving up only two set points and showing hesitation only once, when an overzealous fan screamed "I love you!" while the archer was at full draw. Undaunted, Ellison shot his way to his third gold medal in less than two hours in a night that was nothing short of spectacular for Team USA.

The organizers of the Ogden Archery World Cup were able to pack the stands at Lindquist Field in downtown Ogden, and the roar of the crowd was deafening at times as fans cheered their favorites. Weather conditions were clear, with a variable breeze that picked up as the evening progressed, but the sun setting over the mountains offered viewers a picturesque backdrop for the recurve finals.

The evening opened with the U.S. women's recurve team of Miranda Leek (IA/USA), Khatuna Lorig (CA/USA) and Jennifer Nichols shooting for bronze against the team from China. Led by eventual gold medalist Ming Cheng, the Chinese team had secured a nine point lead after two ends, and though the U.S. team narrowed the gap at one point, they were unable to recover the deficit. China took the bronze medal, giving the U.S. recurve women a fourth place finish for this event.

The women's recurve team gold medal match was a close contest between the Ukrainian and Indian teams, both of whom had very strong archers at this event. The teams tied at 105 after two ends, and then India took a one point lead after that. However, the Ukrainian team was able to come from behind to gain the lead, and won the gold medal, 213-210, with India taking the silver.

Next up was the men's recurve team bronze medal event, in which Ukraine and India faced off once again. This Ukrainian team featured Viktor Ruban, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, while India's Jayanta Talukdar is also considered a force to reckon with. Though India led the match initially, once again the Ukrainian team came from behind to clinch the bronze medal, 222-218.

The U.S. men's recurve team then took to the field to contest the gold medal match against China. The team of Ellison, Jake Kaminski (CA/USA) and Joe Fanchin (CA/USA) responded to the excited cheering of the crowd, as the U.S. team took a three point lead versus China at the half. With three solid tens as their finish in the third end, the U.S. gained a seven point lead, and were unstoppable through the final end, taking the gold medal by four points, 220-216, while China took silver.

In the mixed team gold medal final, the young team of Leek and Ellison once again returned to the field, this time versus Talukdar and Deepika Kumari of India. Though India opened with the lead in this match, the tide quickly turned when the Indian team had a timing issue that gave Leek and Ellison a ten point lead. Thanks to strong shooting through the back half of the match, the U.S. took their second gold medal of the evening with a 145-136 win.

In the individual matches, the women opened the evening, with a bronze medal contest between Alejandra Valencia (MEX) and Kateryna Palekha (UKR). This back and forth featured strong shooting from both archers, but Valencia took six set points to Palekha's four, winning the bronze medal for Mexico. In the gold medal matchup, it was Ming Cheng of China facing Kumari of India in a decisive victory for the Chinese archer, who won the gold in four sets, giving Kumari the silver medal.

The men's recurve bronze medal match was contested between Team USA's Joe Fanchin, in his first individual medal match at a World Cup event, versus Markiyan Ivashko, part of the Ukrainian team that had such a solid performance at this competition. Ivashko began with an initial 2-0 lead, but Fanchin was able to post high enough scores to take the second set. A tie in the third set resulted in a 3-3 draw, but Fanchin was able to come back in the final two sets to take a 7-3 win for his first ever individual World Cup medal.

"It's exciting; I've been learning a lot as far as the mental side of archery, and it makes me realize how much fun this sport is, and how you can push yourself to do well," noted Fanchin after the match. "I credit Brady, Coach Lee, Guy Krueger, all of the coaches here, and everyone at the Olympic Training Center."

The finale of the evening was, fittingly, the gold medal matchup between Team USA's Ellison and Hrachov, the young Ukranian archer. Ellison, seeking to defend his number one world ranking, ended the first set in a draw with his opponent as the wind picked up. With a 28 to his opponent's 27 on the second end, Ellison took a 3-1 lead, but another tie brought the score to 4-2. Knowing he had to take the final set, Ellison showed the determination he has demonstrated throughout the season, winning the gold medal with a 6-2 victory.

When asked how he felt about winning his third consecutive World Cup stage, Ellison noted that the best part of it was winning the medal on U.S. soil. "That's what makes it special for me," noted the young Olympian, after taking three gold medals in less than two hours. "Going out there and every match, winning the gold medal with the USA crowd behind us, that's what makes it special - you can't ask for better than that."

The competition continues tonight with the compound finals; Team USA will seek medals in the mixed team, men's team and women's team events, as well as seeking individual bronze and gold medals. The matches will be broadcast live from Lindquist Field at http://espn.go.com/espn3/index/_/sport/outdoors. USA Archery will be reporting live from the event, with updates posted to Twitter and photo albums posted to Facebook.

The U.S. team is supported by a full staff at this event, including National Head Coach KiSik Lee, Coaches Mel Nichols and Doug Ludwig, and Team Leader Cindy Bevilacqua. USA Archery thanks the Easton Foundations and the U.S. Olympic Committee for their support of the compound and recurve teams at this event. For live scoring, visit http://www.archery.org; for complete information on this event, visit http://www.ogdenwc.com.

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