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August 13, 2008

Wunderle Still Alive in Individual Competition; Johnson, Ellison Eliminated

U.S. archer Vic Wunderle (Mason City, Ill.) is among the final 16 competitors in the men's Individual Round after winning two elimination matches at the Beijing Olympic Green Archery Field on Wednesday.

Wunderle will face Dong-Hyun Im of Korea in the round of eight at 11:48 Friday morning.

Wunderle's teammates Brady Ellison (Glendale, Ariz. / Chula Vista, Calif.) and Butch Johnson (Woodstock, Conn.) were eliminated in the second round Wednesday after posting first round wins earlier in the day.

The 41st seed, Wunderle beat #24 seed Eduardo Velez of Mexico 106-102 in the first round and then upset #9 seed Ilario Di Buo' of Italy in a one arrow shootout. The score in the second match was tied at 108 after 12 arrows, but after Di Buo' hit an eight on his first extra shot, Wunderle closed the match with a 10.

"Ilario is a great competitor, a world champion, a great archer," said Wunderle, the individual silver medalist at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. "He's also a good friend of mine. I wished we both could have advanced, but in the end we come here to win and I'm very pleased that I finished up with a good arrow that was enough to get me the victory."

Despite moving on, Wunderle wasn't pleased with his performance. "I shot about half the arrows in the match good. I didn't shoot as well as I would have liked to, but it's a stressful environment," he said. "It's nice to make it past each round as you go. Today I gave a good performance. I don't think I gave my best performance. I think I'll need to do a little bit better in the next round to continue advancing. This sport comes down to who's shooting hot on given day, and I know if I have a good day, I'm capable of winning. I just have to try to make Friday a good day."

While Wunderle was competing on Court B, Johnson was involved in his own drama on Court A. In the first round he outlasted Andrey Abramov of Russia in a three arrow shootout. With the score tied at 109 after 12 arrows, Abramov and Johnson tied again on each of their first two shots, before the American registered a nine to Abramov's eight to seal the win. Johnson then was eliminated by Dong-Hyun Im in the second round match, 115-106, just moments later.

It was a disappointing end for the five-time Olympian and two-time medalist. "It's about making good shots and having fun. You do your best; that's all you can do. It wasn't very good today," said Johnson. "They just didn't want to go in today."

"I knew he was good and I knew I had to shoot well," Johnson said of his opponent, who hit six 10s in a row at one point. "I went up there and I only made a couple shots that I felt were a little rough, weren't hitting the middle. Several of them I was very surprised on. Once you fall way behind, there's no way he's going to lose. He's too experienced of an archer. You just enjoy the moment."

Ellison entered the elimination round as the 15th seed and easily moved past 50th seed John David Burnes of Canada, 111-89, earlier in the day, but just couldn't get on track in his second-round 113-107 loss to Canadian Jay Lyon.

"I shot well, actually," Ellison said. "Every one of those shots in that last round felt good. I shot 11 nines and an eight. It's really hard to shoot that many nines."

The nerves didn't affect the 19-year-old's performance in the second match. He said it's the first match that's the toughest. "The first one is your hardest match. It's the first time you're in the stadium; it's what you've been waiting for. You don't know what's going to happen. The nerves are higher. You just go in there and shoot. After you get past the first one, you kind of settle down a little bit."

All in all, Ellison was happy with his Beijing experience and he has his sights set on the next one four years down the line. "The Olympics is exciting, being around the other Americans, being around that team. It's a lot of fun to walk around the Village and experience being a part of the Games. I'll start training tomorrow for London. The Olympics is like nothing else. I have four years to the next one, so I'd better get ready."

Remaining event schedule for the U.S. Team:

Thursday, August 14 at 10:56
Women's Individual Round of Eight - Khatuna Lorig (USA) vs. Ana Maria Rendon (COL)

(Followed by Quarters, Semis, Bronze Medal and Gold Medal Matches)

Friday, August 15 at 11:48
Men's Individual Round of Eight - Vic Wunderle (USA) vs. Dong-Hyun Im (KOR)

(Followed by Quarters, Semis, Bronze Medal and Gold Medal Matches)

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