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SHANGHAI, China - After several heartbreaking early upsets in eliminations, U.S. archers made it to one gold final of each event. After qualifying third, fourth and fifth, and shattering their own world record, the U.S. compound men were strong favorites for the gold yesterday.
Alex Wifler (Crete, Illinois) in his Archery World Cup debut, ranked highest of the trio, just ahead of Steve Anderson (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Reo Wilde (Pocatello, Idaho). Throughout the elimination matches, Wifler, Anderson and Wilde consistently posted some of the highest scores on the field, outshooting gold medal opponents from Iran in each match through the semifinals.
Compound Saturday rolled in and the team from Iran stepped up, taking a quick four point advantage in the first end as Wifler and Anderson struggled to find the 10-ring. Down one more point at the half, the match looked bleak, but the U.S. picked up one point in the third end. When Iran dropped a 7 in the final end, the door opened for the U.S. archers and a 59 let them close the gap to only a single point. Ultimately a very close match, Iran still ended 229-228 and took the win, leaving the U.S. with the silver.
Brady Ellison (Globe, Arizona) and Khatuna Lorig (West Hollywood, California) both shot strong scores to turn things around for the U.S. in the recurve mixed team final against Chinese Taipei. Ellison had shot a personal best in qualification, just two points off the world record, and Lorig qualified in the top 10 for the women, but in eliminations, both Lorig and Ellison, as well as their respective teams, were knocked out very early in the competition. Both managed to find tens when it counted in the mixed team final and the two took a solid and easy gold win.
Afterwards, Lorig commented to World Archery: "Personally, I've been working really hard, ironing out a lot of inconsistencies. I think as a team we know we need to train harder. But we'll try to take positive energy from here. Every competition teaches you something."
Zach Garrett (Wellington, Missouri) then took on Netherlands' top shooter Sjef Van Den Berg for the recurve men's gold. Both archers just 21 years old, are young stars, looking towards bright futures in this sport. Garrett opened the match with a perfect 30 and looked strong for the win. As Van Den Berg took the second set and the pair split the third with 29s, the match turned to a more even playing field. Van Den Berg had found his rhythm, only loosing one arrow from the 10-ring for the remainder of the match. He took the win 7-3 over Garrett.
"Obviously I didn't shoot the way I wanted to, but it happens," commented Garrett to World Archery on his silver finish. "I'm doing my best to figure it out. Next time will be better. It's just the way it happens."
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