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February 09, 2012

USA Claims Sixteen World Championships Medals

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - The finals of the World Archery Indoor Championships brought an intense week of competition to a crowd-pleasing and climactic finish as all four USA teams won gold medals, and Team USA archers won seven individual medals, bringing the total medal count for the World Archery Indoor Championships to sixteen: seven gold medals, five silver and four bronze. 

The day opened with the recurve women's team event, which brought the crowd to its feet, with cheering sections for all squads occupying the stands. The first matchup, the recurve women's bronze, featured a matchup between the Italian team and Russia. In this meeting, Italy started with a two point lead after the first end, and steadily closed the door with the help of multi time world champion Natalia Valeeva. Though the Russian squad tried to close the gap, they were unable to stop the Italians, who won the bronze.

Team USA archers Miranda Leek (USA/IA), Jennifer Nichols (USA/TX) and Brandi DeLoach (USA/GA) took to the stage next, determined to take the gold and raise the team's world ranking, which has been steadily on the rise. The team was solid throughout their matchup with Japan, and took advantage of a slow start from their opponents to increase their lead early on. With DeLoach dropping only two points out of six arrows, the team was able to claim the first gold medal of the day for Team USA, giving Japan the silver.

The men took to the stage next, with a Mexico-Ukraine matchup that pitted Viktor Ruban, the 2008 Olympic Champion, against Juan Rene Serrano, the top-qualifying archer at that same Olympic event. In their first meeting in five years, the Ukraine quickly gained a seven-point advantage over Mexico. Though the Mexican team attempted to narrow their opponents' lead, they were unable to overcome the Ukrainian squad, who took the bronze medal.

Up next was Team USA's Brady Ellison (USA/AZ), Jake Kaminski (USA/CA) and Victor Wunderle (USA/NC), who were determined to defend their World Championship title which was won by Ellison, Wunderle and Staten Holmes (USA/TX) in 2009. USA's Wunderle, who was off to a slow start earlier in the week, was a solid producer in this match, shooting ten after ten alongside Kaminski and Ellison to take the lead in this very tight match with Russia. Though Russia tightened the gap to a one point deficit, they could not overcome the U.S. team, who took the country's second consecutive gold medal of the day.

The compound matches opened with the women's team bronze medal event. This was a contest between the Italian team and Great Britain, featuring such marquee archers as Laura Longo (ITA), Marcella Tonioli (ITA) and Andrea Gales (GBR). The British team opened with a one-point lead, and never looked back. Increasing the margin to three points in the final end, Great Britain earned its bronze medal, with a fourth place finish for Italy.

The U.S. team of Christie Colin (USA/PA), Tristan Skarvan (USA/WI) and Erika Anschutz (USA/NE) took to the venue next, determined to defend the team's title from 2009. Facing a tough Russian team featuring Albina Loginova and Viktorya Balzhanova, the U.S. team delivered. At the halfway point, Team USA held a three point lead, and closed the door, holding at that margin through the final ends of the match. With the crowd on their feet, Colin, Skarvan and Anschutz answered their fans with the third gold medal victory of the day for USA, giving Russia the silver.

In the compound men's bronze medal match, it was two well matched teams facing one another: Great Britain and Canada. Featuring Dietmar Trillus and Chris Perkins (CAN) and Liam Grimwood and Chris White (GBR), this looked to be a tough matchup. A surprise seven from Perkins in the beginning, however, put the British at an advantage that they never lost once they gained it. Shooting clean in the last end, Great Britain claimed their second team medal of the day.

For the gold medal, it was a meeting between the USA team of Reo Wilde (USA/ID), Jimmy Butts (USA/NY) and Braden Gellenthien (USA/VA), and a strong team from France featuring noted archer Pierre Deloche. Team USA took a two point lead in the first end, but tied in the second end; however, they quickly regained a three point lead heading into the home stretch of the match. Virtually unstoppable, the team of Wilde, Butts and Gellenthien continued to hit tens through the final end, claiming the gold and making the US four for four in team gold medal matchups today.

The afternoon saw the beginning of the individual matches, as the junior team events were competed earlier in the week, with the U.S. compound junior men winning gold, the compound junior women taking silver, and both recurve junior teams winning bronze.  Individual bronze medal matches had also already been competed for the juniors.

In the first gold medal matchup, it was Team USA's Lexi Keller (USA/WI) facing Runa Grydeland (NOR). Though Keller shot consistently, she had some difficulty early from which she was unable to recover. With Grydeland taking a 6-0 win, Keller won the silver medal for the United States, continuing the country's perfect record of medal wins today. Her teammate Bridger Deaton (USA/IA) was up next, meeting Louw Rheinhard (RSA). Drawing the first set, Deaton quickly took charge, winning the second and third sets for a 5-1 lead going into the final set. Winning match point, Deaton claimed the World Championship title and earned the fifth gold of the day for USA.

In other junior matches this afternoon, Russia's Kristina Timofeeva took a gold medal win versus her opponent, Anastasia Pavlova (UKR), and Italy's Luca Maran became World Champion after a gold medal victory versus Sief Van Den Berg (NED).  In the recurve women's bronze medal match, Naomi Folkard (GBR) met Ksenia Perova (RUS); though Folkard tied one set, it wasn't enough to stop Perova, who won the bronze.

Team USA took to the stage once again for the recurve women's gold medal match, a point for point battle between American archery "thunderbolt" Leek and her opponent, five time Olympian and multi-time World Champion Natalia Valeeva (ITA). Leek took the first set, and then the archers tied set after set, with excitement in the venue reaching a fever pitch as Leek held her own against Valeeva, the most accomplished recurve archer at this event. Valeeva took the final set by a single point, winning the gold 6-4 and sending USA's Leek home with her second medal of the day. 

"It's great to be walking away with a team gold and an individual silver," said Leek, commenting on her matches today. "It was a close match the entire way, I fought hard for it. It was a great experience.  

The recurve men's bronze individual match pitted Brady Ellison, the number one world ranked archer, against Helbert Dornhofer of Austria. Though Dornhofer started strong, putting up some tens in the first set, it was not enough to stop Ellison, who seemed determined to come home from this Championships with a medal. Ellison, shooting ten after ten, took the match in straight sets with a 6-0 bronze medal victory.

In the gold medal contest, it was a contest between Jake Kaminski, the U.S. Olympic hopeful, and Marco Galiazzo, Italy's Olympic champion. Kaminski started out strong in this matchup, winning the first set. Though Galiazzo tied the score with the second round, the two archers tied the following three sets, resulting in a draw. A shoot-off for these archers had Kaminski shooting a nine to his opponent's ten, giving the U.S. another silver medal.

In the compound women's group, Team USA's Christie Colin was matched up with Mexico's Linda Ochoa in the bronze medal match. Colin opened with a 2-0 advantage thanks to strong shooting, but Ochoa remained solid and went on to win three sets and tie a fourth, giving Colin a fourth place finish in this World Championship event. Gold for the compound women's group was won by Russia's Balzhanova, with Netherlands' Inge Van Caspel taking silver; in the compound men's individual bronze medal contest, it was Julio Fierro who won the bronze.

Fittingly, an all-American final finished the evening, with a battle of the World Champions between Jimmy Butts and Reo Wilde. These two heavy hitters gave the audience the performance they wanted, featuring a close match following an initial lead from Wilde, and then a point for point battle over the remaining sets. Ultimately, it was Wilde who prevailed, drawing on the energy of this home crowd and his family close by to take the gold, giving Butts the silver.  

When asked how he feels about his win, Wilde commented: "great, it's amazing. It's unbelievable. It's just different to do it in your own country - having that chance is amazing. It's nice - you knew the voices (cheering for you); my dad was here, and that was great."

Complete results are available online at http://www.archery.org. Photos are available at http://usarchery.org/multimedia/photo_galleries

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