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March 24, 2020

Team USA Archery Olympians and Paralympians Share Reactions to Tokyo 2020 Postponement

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – With this morning’s official announcement of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to 2021, athletes, coaches, fans, supporters and staff around the world are coming to terms with this news. While heartbreaking for so many in such varying ways, it is important that this decision was made for the right reasons; to prioritize global health and safety and to ensure a level playing field for all. The Flame will continue to burn, and the Games will go on as a bright light at the end of this dark and confusing time.

3x Olympic Medalist, World Champion, World No. 1 and the indoor and outdoor world record holder Brady Ellison was a strong favorite to bring home gold this summer. Ellison began 2020 with the first ever perfect Vegas 900 shot with a recurve, calling it the greatest accomplishment of his archery career. So hungry for that Olympic Champion title, this news, as Ellison said: “sucks”.

Ellison shared: “The Games being postponed is devastating, but it’s also an opportunity to have one more year to get even better. I am shooting my best ever right now and really know I had my greatest chance yet at winning gold this year. Now I just have to keep pushing and get even better than I am now.

“There are no limits to the height one can achieve when backed into a corner; the only way out is to fight and overcome. It’s now even more important to train hard and to win every event that we can shoot.

“My heart goes out to all the athletes who prepared for this year as their last run or took all the vacation and time to try and make a run at this Olympics that may no longer be able, and their Olympic dreams are done without even having the opportunity.

“With the news of the postponement, we don’t have to stress about putting ourselves and our health at risk to train and now everyone can focus on what’s important: family and staying safe and getting rid of this virus ASAP. Everyone needs to do their part in this. I am self-quarantined at my house in Arizona and am fortunate enough that I have my own range and can keep my performance up. For everyone who can’t go shoot, well the power of the mind and never missing may be more powerful than actually training. All the best everyone.”

National and Olympic Head Coach and Team USA’s Best Coach of the Year KiSik Lee reacted positively: “I see a lot of archers depressed by the postponement, but we expected it. For me, as a coach, we were really ready to go to Tokyo this summer, and now we have to take this situation, settle down, step back and prepare mentally to go next year. I released a new training program today. I’ve changed our program 3 times in the last 2 weeks, but now that the Games are officially postponed, we are already putting plans into action to be ready for Tokyo in 2021. Our athletes are safe and healthy and will continue training. This situation is out of our control, but our training is under control; we will move on and be prepared.”

Paralympic Head Coach George Ryals IV shared a similar sentiment: “I can see one year as ‘more training time’, a full cancellation would have been devastating for many athletes. One year means more time for development of additional emerging para archery talent. I see this as an opportunity to make our team stronger and deeper for 2021.

“I know the USA Para Archery team is still training and growing skill. The social distancing and quarantine measures have caused them to be more creative with training plans and focus more on the building blocks of their shot routine. I have already seen some growth in scores from a few team members who have doubled down on training. We will see an even stronger team in 2021 and we can still see the light of the Paralympic Games at the end of the tunnel.”

This news is positive for many emerging talents, but is also crushing for athletes who are towards the end of their career. Paralympian Lia Coryell shared: “Probably 90% of the Paralympians have faced a devastating tragedy or injury at some point in their lives and it makes everything relative. This is disappointing but there are more important things in life and the Games will go on next year. Every person is important, not just the athletes.”

“But honestly, this doesn’t look good for me, because my body is worn out and tired and I don’t know if I can train for another year,” added Coryell, who is diagnosed with progressive MS. Coryell says a diagnosis won’t stop her from trying: “now it’s time to put our big kid pants on, regroup, adapt, improvise and overcome...because we are AmeriCANs. #1sport1team1nation.”

Paralympian Eric Bennett commented: “I’m probably more pragmatic than most, I think it’s a good call as we’re seeing around the world, the dangers of not taking this seriously, including in our own country. Postponing is the smartest idea, but it has a lot of downside. The athletes are protecting our health and safety, but this affects our careers. I’m at the tail end of my career, this was very likely my last Games, so it’s hard to know I’ll have to maintain my highest level for another year but this also gives me one more year to be fully prepared and reach my most competitive level so I have my best opportunity to win gold.”

Olympian Mackenzie Brown is also taking the postponement as an opportunity to strive for a better outcome in Tokyo: “I am completely behind this decision to postpone the Games. I believe to be in line with the Olympic spirit, it’s in the best interest of the Olympics to be postponed because right now not everyone is able to train their hardest for their Olympic dreams. We are in crazy times right now and it’s difficult to keep very optimistic, but I’ve been training for four years for my dreams and I will continue to train and be ready at any moment to put on my best performance. It’s hard to wait for the next competition, but it’s what I was born to do in my opinion and I will continue to push on.”

USA Archery and the archery community are hard at work to rebuild our Road to Tokyo and hope that everyone takes this time to prioritize health and safety so we can come back stronger and better for Tokyo in 2021.

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