RIO DE JANEIRO— After getting back to the Olympic finals Saturday, the U.S. men’s archery team was dealt the same result as in 2012 -- a silver medal. However, this time, they were happy.
“It is a totally different experience and feeling of satisfaction for sure,” said Jake Kaminski, one of two returning team members who also won silver at the 2012 Games in London. “It went as well as we possibly could have made it. This was our best match of the day and I wouldn’t change our performance.”
The South Koreans shot six straight bull’s-eyes to open the gold-medal match at the Sambodromo. Led by Woojin Kim, South Korea finished with 15 of its 18 shots registering a 10 on the official scorecard.
“It was a be-perfect type of night,” said Team USA’s Brady Ellison, who also competed in London. “We were darn good, and they were perfect.”
In a 6-0 defeat, Ellison, Kaminski, and Olympic newcomer Zach Garrett put on a strong performance. They hit 10 bull’s-eyes overall, including three straight in the second set.
“It was an honor to be in that match,” Ellison said. “That match will be a highlight reel for a long time.”
The silver medal is Team USA’s fifth in the men’s team event, which was added to the Olympic program in 1988.
After the match, the U.S. men showed a sign of respect by stepping back and bowing to their Korean opponents.
“The Koreans shot basically a world record,” Kaminski said. “If there was a world record still in the sport, they would've had it.”
Despite not winning gold, the U.S. men are confident heading into individual play, which begins Monday.
Ellison is looking to capitalize on a great 2016 season that saw him win the Indoor Archery World Cup Final and the bronze in the World Archery Indoor Championships. He begins individual competition Tuesday, alongside Kaminski in the round of 32.
“I’m shooting better than I ever have this year and I shot well today,” Ellison said. “I feel good and it is definitely the least nervous that I have ever been at the Games. I am excited, pumped up and looking for a medal.”
Garrett will face Haziq Kamaruddin of Malaysia on Wednesday and is coming off an impressive effort in team play.
Garrett was the catalyst for the men’s victories Monday over Indonesia and China in the quarterfinals and semifinals. He scored 228 points in those two contests and seemingly wasn’t fazed by the pressure of competing on his first Olympic stage. He said he hopes to continue that same momentum as he searches for an individual medal.
“For me to come out and compete in the (Sambodromo) stadium takes a lot of pressure off to go and shoot in individuals,” he said. “This helps me immensely and all of us a lot.”
The men’s team will look to stick together over the next four years and with a veteran nucleus, the future is bright. By sticking together, they can envision a potential return to the medal stand at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“Jake is shooting well and Zach is going to stay in the sport,” Ellison said. “We aren’t losing our top guys and this year our top-three guys are going on. I think it will be good and we will get better together.”
Jaylon Thompson is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.