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BELEK-ANTALYA, Turkey - As Brady Ellison (Chula Vista, Calif.) and Jake Kaminski (Gainesville, Fla.) lifted their arms in celebration, Joe Fanchin (Oceanside, Calif.) stared down his final arrow, seemingly willing it to land in the center of the target. With that final shot, the U.S. men's team won their first world title in thirty years, a major victory for a team that's struggled since taking the silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
"A lot of people have doubted the U.S. team," Ellison told World Archery. "To get into the gold medal match and almost win gold at the [Olympic] Games - and then we come here, where we have tough conditions, get to the finals and into the gold medal match…and then win it. It's big for us."
The 214-211 victory over a strong team from the Netherlands was the culmination of a grueling week of ups and downs at the World Championships. Winds gusting in excess of 40 miles per hour plagued the archers in individual and team preliminaries, knocking out every single individual athlete by the 1/8 round, including archers who currently hold the top spots in the world rankings.
Two other bright spots in the week: a mixed team silver medal for Ellison and teammate Khatuna Lorig (West Hollywood, Calif.) - and a mixed team bronze for the compound duo of Erika Jones (Grand Island, Neb.) and Jesse Broadwater (Jennserstown, Pa.).
Lorig - the five time Olympian who coached actress Jennifer Lawrence for her role in "The Hunger Games" - was consistent enough with Ellison to fight their way into the gold medal final despite difficult conditions during their early matches. In today's meeting with Korea, Lorig and Ellison delivered a score of 139 - not quite enough to overcome opponents Oh Jin Hyek and Ki Bo Bae, who posted a solid 148 to claim the world title.
Jones and Broadwater were the sole American compound archers in this weekend's final, a testament to the treacherous conditions on the field this week, as well as the increasing level of talent from other countries in a division historically dominated by the United States. Facing Abhishek Verma and Jyothi Surekha Vennam of India, the Americans shot a 156 - just four points shy of perfect - to 151, to claim the win.
The World Archery Championships closes the outdoor season for some archers, while youth and para athletes look toward their own World Championships events, which begin in Wuxi, China on the 14th for the youth archers, and in Bangkok, Thailand on the 29th for para athletes. Watch usarchery.org for complete coverage.
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