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LIMERICK, Ireland – The depth of talent within USA archery was on display for all to see on Wednesday as gold and silver medals were won in the U18 mixed team division.
Olivia Dean – a gold medalist at last month’s World Cup Stage 3 in Colombia – took top honors on another windy day in Ireland alongside Dewey Hathaway in the compound category.
That was followed by a silver medal for the mixed team of Christian Stoddard and Gabrielle Sasai in recurve. Stoddard and Sasai were beaten by Japan in the final, but certainly showed their quality throughout.
During the elimination rounds, seventh seed Sasai and Stoddard shocked second seeds Korea, coming from 2-0 down to win 6-2 in the quarterfinals, before shaking off third seed China for a place in the televised gold medal match.
Stoddard said, “I think we knew that teams, especially Korea, were going to be really, really hard to go against but we were just really motivated and had great energy throughout those rounds and that’s what allowed us to shoot as well as we did.”
Watching the body language and broad, beaming smiles of Hathaway and Dean – both 16 years of age – and you could tell how much they appeared to be enjoying themselves.
They defeated Colombia 150-144 in the quarterfinals, then downed Mexico 150-145 to face Great Britain. A rare miss due to equipment malfunction from the British archer Ioan Rees, with the final arrow of the match, handed gold to Dean and Hathaway, though the gracious American duo certainly felt the pain of their opponents in their moment of glory.
“To watch what happened, happen, it’s kind of rough,” admitted Hathaway.
Dean had just come off a tough final arrow herself, so the rollercoaster of emotions were real. She said, “It’s really hard having that happen all in a couple of minutes because I definitely wasn’t very happy with a couple of arrows during the match, and then to have it swing so quickly like that is really difficult. It was hard for me to process all at once.”
But the pair would step up and have the gold medals placed around the neck, turn and watch the Stars and Stripes rise and the Star Spangled Banner echo around the arena.
Hathaway added, “That was awesome. That was really touching.”
For Dean, who claimed gold in Medellin, hearing the national anthem while stood atop the podium, is always special, “Every time it’s like the ‘a-ha’ moment. I’m like, ‘I finally made it’, so I don’t think it will ever get boring.”
In the U21 division, Landon Richardson and Casey Kaufhold defeated Japan 6-0 in the last eight of the recurve mixed team before falling 5-3 to eventual champions Korea.
Great Britain put paid to the USA’s chances in the compound U21 mixed team event - consisting of Sawyer Sullivan and Sydney Sullenberger - winning 148-147 in their quarterfinal contest.
The World Archery Youth Championships continue on Thursday with the team events, and Sullenberger has the chance to gain revenge over GB when the compound U21 women – which also includes Carson Krahe and Makenna Proctor – start their chase for gold at the quarterfinal stage against Great Britain.
Other opening matches include:
Compound U21 men vs. Kazakhstan
(Isaac Sullivan, Sawyer Sullivan, Nathan Wilken)
Compound U18 men vs. Spain (both nations receive a bye to the last eight)
(Landyn Cox, Dewey Hathaway, Grady Kane)
Compound U18 women vs. Italy
(Liko Arreola, Olivia Dean, Leann Drake)