Podcast: Olympic archer Mackenzie Brown

Mackenzie Brown is one of the top female Olympic recurve archers in the world. Rising as high as No. 3 in World Archery’s rankings of female recurve archers, Brown represented the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil She’s also the two-time defending champion in the Women’s Recurve Division of the annual Lancaster Archery Classic.

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We caught up with Brown recently at the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) National Tournament in Louisville, Ky. Brown was introduced to archery through the NASP program at her school in Texas when she was growing up, so she attended this year’s national tournament to sign autographs and pose for photos with thousands of fans.

Brown sat down and talked with us about a wide array of topics, offering unique and riveting insight into what it’s like – and what it takes – to be one of the best athletes in a sport in order to represent your nation at the Olympics.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • Brown’s initial NASP coach didn’t think she’d go too far in archery.
  • How NASP helped her develop a love for archery.
  • Archery actually wasn’t the sport Brown originally hoped would take her to the Olympics.
  • How seriously Brown takes the notion that she is a role model to young people.
  • Her view of her performance in the Olympics, where she finished in 19th place.
  • Which member of the Cleveland Cavaliers Brown hung out with in Rio – but didn’t recognize.
  • An idea of the sacrifices it takes to be an Olympic athlete.

“It’s not for someone who won’t give up almost everything,” Brown said. “I’ve been to two school dances in my entire life. They were in junior high….I’ve made sacrifices all throughout my archery career. But I want it that bad.”

Watch Mackenzie Brown compete in the finals at the 2017 Lancaster Archery Classic here.

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Guide to watching archery at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio

Opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are less than two weeks away.

Archery is one of the first sports to feature competition, and so you need to be ready to follow the action.

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Here are some things you need to know.

NBC is the lead sponsoring network for televising the Olympics, although several others also will provide some coverage. Here’s the latest schedule for watching archery on television. All times listed here are Eastern Time. Rio is one hour ahead of Eastern Time.

NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will air archery as part of its programming that begins at 9 a.m., Aug. 6; MSNBC plans to include archery as part of its programming that starts at 2:15 p.m.

NBCSN also has archery listed for its 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. broadcasts Aug. 7; and its 3 p.m. broadcast on Aug. 8.

On Aug. 9, you can find archery on MSNBC beginning at noon, and NBCSN beginning at 3 p.m.

Aug. 10, USA plans to include archery in its Olympic coverage that begins at 9 a.m., and CNBC will include archery beginning at 5 p.m.

NBCSN will cover archery on Aug. 11, during its broadcasts at 8 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The network will close out the archery coverage Aug. 12, with broadcasts at 8 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.

Opening ceremonies for the Games are scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 5. The Olympic archery competition actually is scheduled to begin on the morning of Aug. 5, before the opening ceremonies, with the men’s individual ranking round starting at 8 a.m., and the women’s ranking round at noon. All three men on Team USA – Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Zach Garrett – will shoot at 8 a.m., while Mackenzie Brown – Team USA’s lone female – shoots at noon.

NBC plans to live stream the archery competition at nbcolympics.com. At the site, click on “All Sports” to find “Archery.” Then click on “Schedule” and click the forward arrow until you get to Aug. 5-12.

After the men’s and women’s individual ranking rounds Aug. 5, the rest of the archery competition schedule is as follows, with all times being Eastern Times:

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SATURDAY, AUG. 6 – Men’s team round of 16 begins at 8 a.m., which is when Team USA is scheduled to shoot; Men’s team quarterfinals begin at 1 p.m., with semifinals and medal matches following.

SUNDAY, AUG. 7 – Women’s team round of 16 begins at 8 a.m.; Women’s team quarterfinals begin at 1 p.m., with semifinals and medal matches following.

MONDAY, AUG. 8 – Men’s and women’s individual elimination rounds of 64 and 32 begin at 8 a.m.; Those rounds continue at 2 p.m.

TUESDAY, AUG. 9 – Men’s and women’s individual elimination rounds of 64 and 32 begin at 8 a.m.; Those rounds continue at 2 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 10 – Men’s and women’s individual elimination rounds of 64 and 32 begin at 8 a.m.; Those rounds continue at 2 p.m.

THURSDAY, AUG. 11 – Women’s individual round of 16 begins at 8 a.m.; Women’s individual quarterfinals begin at 2 p.m., with semifinals and medal matches following.

FRIDAY, AUG. 12 – Men’s individual round of 16 begins at 8 a.m.; Men’s individual quarterfinals begin at 2 p.m., with semifinals and medal matches following.

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Zach Garrett (Photo by World Archery)

(Related content: “How it Works: Olympic Competition and Scoring”)

WHO TO WATCH

The American team will feature Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Zach Garrett on the men’s side, and Mackenzie Brown on the women’s side. The U.S. did not qualify to send a full women’s team. Ellison is the veteran of the group, competing in his third Olympics. Kaminski is returning for the second time.

In the U.S. Olympic trials this year, Ellison qualified first, but Garrett is currently ranked higher by World Archery. Garrett is listed as third in the world, compared to Ellison’s 7th-place ranking. Kaminski is ranked 26th.

Brown heads to Rio as the fourth-ranked female archer in the world, and the top American.

The world No. 1 and 2 men’s archers both hail from Korea – Kim Woojin and Ku Bonchan. They’ll be shooting in Rio, along with teammate Lee Seungyun, the world No. 6 archer.

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World No. 1 and 2 archers, Kim Woojin, center, and Ku Bonchan, right, both of Korea, finished first and third respectively in the Rio test event for archery last fall. (Photo by World Archery)

Takaharu Furukawa of Japan, who won the silver medal in 2012, is the only men’s individual medal winner at London to compete in Rio. Gold medal winner Oh Jin-Hyek of South Korea didn’t qualify, nor did bronze medalist Dai Xiaoxiang of China.

On the women’s side, 2012 individual and team gold medalist Ki Bo Bae of Korea will be in Rio. She is currently ranked third in the world. Her teammate, Choi Misun, holds the world No. 1 ranking. The world No. 2 archer is Tan Ya-ting, who will compete for Chinese Taipei. London silver medalist Aida Roman of Mexico also will compete in Rio. Bronze medal winner Mariana Avitia of Mexico will not be in this year’s Games.

In the team competition, the top two men’s teams from the 2012 Olympics both are returning two-thirds of their squads.

London gold-medal winner Italy returns Marco Galiazzo – the 2004 individual Olympic champion – and Mauro Nespoli, who will shoot with David Pasqualucci. Absent is Michele Frangilli, who released one of the clutch arrows of all time in London, scoring a 10 with the final arrow of the match, which sealed the gold medal for Italy. A 9 would have sent the match into a shoot-off. Galiazzo and Nespoli also shot together in Beijing in 2008, along with teammate Ilario Di Buo, where they won the team silver medal.

The silver-medal-winning U.S. team is sending Ellison and Kaminski back to the Games, where they will team up with Garrett. Garrett replaces 2012 Olympian Jacob Wukie, who did not make the cut this year.

Of course, the Korean team, which features the world No. 1, 2 and 6 archers, is sure to be a force in the men’s competition.

For the women, Ki Bo Bae is the only member of Korea’s 2012 gold medal team to shoot in Rio. But with her teaming up with the world No. 1 and 6 archers, Korea has to be the team to beat.

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The Korean women’s team, from left, Chang Hye Jin, Ki Bo Bae, and, far left, Choi Misun, is sure to be in the hunt for a medal. (Photo by World Archery)

No one from China’s silver medal team will shoot this summer, and Kaori Kawanaka is the only member of Japan’s bronze medal team to shoot in Rio, which leaves the door open on the women’s side.

The oldest archer competing in Rio will be Gantugs Jantsan, 44, of Mongolia, who finished 33rd in the 2012 Olympics. The youngest will be Ricardo Soto, 16, of Chile.

Lancaster Archery Supply is exclusive U.S. distributor for Spider Vanes, other key Olympic archery companies

When Brady Ellison releases his arrows on the field of Sambodromo in Rio this summer, they will be guided by Spider Vanes. Same goes for his teammate, Zach Garrett.

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Ellison, USA’s top male archer and one of the most recognizable archers in the world, helped design these new-to-market vanes, which come in varieties for both recurve and compound archers.

Lancaster Archery Supply is proud to announce that it is the exclusive U.S. distributor for Spider Vanes.

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Every Spider Vane that is shipped to the U.S. from the company’s home base in Slovenia, will come through Lancaster Archery Supply.

Spider Archery is one of several manufacturers whose archery products will be seen in Rio, and which are available in the U.S. exclusively through Lancaster Archery Supply – a world leader in supplying Olympic archery equipment.

As part of its deep commitment to Olympic recurve archery, Lancaster Archery Supply also is the exclusive distributor for TopHat target points, Shibuya, Beiter, Win & Win, Uukha, XSWings, EliVanes  and Fivics – all of which are sure to have a presence at the Summer Games.

Krossen, an arm of Fivics that provides an economical line of products for archers just getting into Olympic recurve, is another brand that is exclusively distributed in the U.S. by Lancaster Archery.

“It’s a privilege for Lancaster Archery to provide the very best target archery equipment to archery dealers and target archers here in the U.S. and around the world, including those who will compete in Rio this summer,” said LAS president and founder Rob Kaufhold. “We are excited to join the world in watching archery at the Olympics as we further our commitment to the sport of archery in the future.”

Now in its 34th year in business, Lancaster Archery Supply serves the archery community through its wholesale and retail websites, 420-page catalog and its Pro Shop in Lancaster, Pa.

Olympic Archery Explained: Draw Weight

There’s no question the archers who will compete in the Olympic games in Rio this summer are the best Olympic recurve archers their home countries have to offer.

They train hard, shooting their bows for many hours every day. And they’ve been doing that for years.

So it’s no stretch to think of these athletes as the strongest Olympic recurve archers in the world. That is, they are the archers who have the most finely-tuned archery muscles.

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Archery is known for using a unique combination of muscles in the back, arms, shoulders and core.

These Olympic competitors have to be shooting the bows with the heaviest draw weights of any archers, right?

Sixty, 70 pounds?

That is, after all, what we typically hear about in discussions of the upper end of draw weights in archery.

Guess again.

How about roughly 40-48 pounds for the women, and 45-55 pounds for the men.

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Brady Ellison, the top American male archer heading to Rio, typically draws 53 pounds. Mackenzie Brown, America’s only female archer competing in the games, draws 46.5 pounds.

Usually, when you hear discussions about draw weights pushing 70 pounds, the archers are talking about shooting compound bows.

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Regardless of the type of bow being shot, heavier draw weights allow for greater arrow speeds and flatter arrow trajectories. This can help an arrow cut through the wind with less drift and more accuracy.

In drawing an Olympic recurve bow, the draw weight actually gets heavier the farther the bow is drawn back. A 70-inch-long, takedown recurve bow – common among Olympic recurve competitors – reaches its marked draw weight when the archer draws the bow to 28 inches. So a bow that’s marked as having a 44-pound draw weight, hits that mark when the bowstring is pulled back 28 inches.

Some archers have long wingspans and draw lengths, drawing their bowstrings beyond 28 inches. Their bows continue to increase in draw weight by approximately 2-3 pounds per inch beyond 28 inches.

At full draw, Brady Ellison holds 53 pounds of tension on the first three fingers of his right hand.

Compound bows, on the other hand, have what’s called let-off. The bows, which employ grooved pulleys – called cams – and cables, reach their peak draw weights roughly halfway through the draw cycle. When the cam rolls over, the draw weight lets off, so the archer is holding significantly less poundage at full draw.

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Most modern compound bows have anywhere from 65-85 percent let-off. Using that range, an archer drawing a bow with a 70-pound draw weight would hold 24.5 – 10.5 pounds of string tension at full draw, thanks to the let-off.

And nearly all compound archers today are holding that weight with a mechanical release that’s either strapped to their wrist or held in their hand. Their fingers don’t touch the bowstring.

So while Olympic recurve archers typically do not draw as much weight as compound archers, they’re probably holding anywhere from two to five times more weight at full draw than most compound archers. And that’s when holding steady is most critical to accuracy.

A competitive Olympic recurve archer regularly trains by shooting an average of 300 arrows per day. The cumulative weight that’s drawn, held and release with their fingers is between 7 and 8 tons.

During an Olympic competition day, archers can shoot nearly 100 arrows between scoring and practice ends, totaling about 4,000 pounds of cumulative draw weight under the extreme stress of competition.

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Mackenzie Brown’s Olympic Archery Dreams Are Taking Her to Rio 2016

When Mackenzie Brown steps to the line in Rio de Janeiro this August, and nocks her first arrow at the 2016 Olympic Games, she will fulfill a dream she has worked for since she picked up a bow and arrow at 10 years of age.

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Photo courtesy of World Archery

“I started in NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program), and then found myself in a JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) program with a recurve,” said Brown, 21, of Texas. “Ever since I decided to go with a recurve, I’ve had Olympic aspirations.”

Brown emerged from the U.S. Olympic Trials in May as the top-ranked American woman in a super-competitive field that included five-time Olympian, Khatuna Lorig.

Her top ranking was critical, because the U.S. only qualified to send one woman to the Olympics this year. A full team of women would have meant three archers would go to Rio.

“I felt really sad that we’re not able to take a full team, because I know if we were able to win a team medal, it’s a lot more special if you can share it with a group of people,” Brown said.

“But I also feel confident in my skills and the way that I’ve been shooting. So I believe it will be a good tournament.”

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(RELATED: Check out Mackenzie Brown’s equipment list, here.)

The men qualified a full team, and so Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminksi and Zach Garrett will be shooting in the same arena as Brown come August.

It’s true Brown is young, and she will be a first-timer at the Olympics. But don’t doubt her abilities or her achievements.

As stated, Brown emerged from the three events that comprise the Olympic Trials as Team USA’s top female archer. She’s currently ranked fourth in the world by World Archery, and is the organization’s top-ranked American woman. Her rankings match Brady Ellison’s of Glendale, Ariz., who is World Archery’s fourth-ranked male and the top-ranked American recurve archer.

Last year, Brown was one of a select number of archers who traveled to Rio to test out the facilities at the site of this year’s Olympic archery competition. She claimed the bronze medal there.

(In case you’ve forgotten or didn’t know it, Brown is the reigning, 2016, women’s recurve, Lancaster Archery Classic champion.)

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Photo by Jeff Sanchez

“I worked really hard to get here, and I’m working really hard to have a good showing at the Olympics,” Brown said.

Living at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., for the past four years, Brown shoots six days a week. On four of those days, she shoots at least 300 arrows. The other two days, she shoots at least 150.

Brown has complete faith in her archery game.

“When we go into tournaments, you’re trusting that you’ve created a background for competing,” she said. “When you’re training, you’re building trust that you know you can rely on. Being able to trust that you’ve done what you needed to to get to this point is gratifying. You kind of say, ‘Ok, I have done enough, and I’m going to go win this tournament.’”

What she’s been working overtime on is mentally preparing for the Olympic experience. She recognizes the Olympics is a bigger stage than other competitions.

“I’ve talked to Brady; I’ve talked to Jacob Wukie, when he was here,” she said. “I’ve talked to Jake. I’ve been just preparing myself for what to expect, but I know there’s not really a way to explain everything that you’re going to go through. So it’s preparing myself for anything.”

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And while she’s been answering an array of media requests – she was in Seventeen magazine in May and is preparing to do some work with National Geographic and ESPN – she also has been lending her support to efforts to get her parents to Rio, so they can watch their daughter.

Chuck and Stacey Brown desperately want to see Mackenzie compete in the world’s biggest sporting event. But getting to Rio, and then spending 10 days there – the archery competition spans seven days – is an expensive endeavor. Especially as inflation soars across a troubled Brazil these days.

So there have been a couple of local fund-raising events near the Browns’ home, and there’s an online campaign to generate some funds as well.

“Road to Rio! The Parents’ Journey” is a GoFundMe page set up to benefit Brown’s parents.

“As you can imagine, our dream is to see our daughter fulfill her dream of competing on the largest stage in the world!” the Browns wrote on their page.

The goal is $10,000. As of June 29, about $3,700 had been raised. Anyone can go to the page and contribute to the cause here.

And come August, look for Brown and the other archers to take the field for competition in Rio from Aug. 6-12.

Olympic Archery Explained: The Plunger

Every archer you see shooting in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer will have a device on their bow called a plunger, or cushion plunger. It’s a small piece of gear that kind of looks like a spark plug, which works in concert with the arrow rest.

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And it’s absolutely critical to accuracy.

The plunger is mounted through a hole in the riser, just above the shelf. When an arrow is nocked on the string, the shaft will sit on the rest arm and press against the plunger tip.

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What does it do?

Well, arrows released with fingers flex laterally as they leave the bow. The flexing is what enables them to clear the bow and stay centered as they come off the bow string.

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Think of the plunger as a shock absorber for your car. The shocks soften bumps as you drive over them, and keep the car from bouncing off its line.

A plunger cushions the flexing of an arrow as it leaves the bow, to promote consistent arrow flight. (In the video below, notice the initial flex of the arrow is in toward the riser. You will see the arrow stays centered as the plunger cushions that first, inward bend.)

The tip of the plunger is spring loaded, and so it gives as the flexing shaft presses against it.

The tension of that spring is adjustable, and it’s critical the archer gets it right for his or her setup.  Arrows that are spined a little on the stiff side require a weaker plunger to absorb the shaft flexing, but if the plunger is too weak, the plunger will be collapsed by the clicker, and the arrow could hit the riser upon the shot. Arrows that are spined a little on the weak side require a stiffer plunger setting to counteract any excess flexing by the arrow.

Olympic archers employ many methods to fine tune their plungers to the get the most accurate and forgiving setups. How an individual archer sets the plunger in Rio could mean the difference between watching the medal rounds from the stands or winning the gold.

U.S. will send only one female archer to Rio Olympics

Competing at the final Olympic qualifier in Turkey this week, the U.S. failed to secure two additional spots to send a full team of three female archers to Rio in August.

That means Mackenzie Brown alone will represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympic games. Hye Youn Park will be the alternate team member.

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Shooting with Brown in Turkey, Park and Khatuna Lorig had hoped to finish among the top three teams, which would have enabled the U.S. to send all three women to Rio.

The U.S. team beat Mongolia 5-4 in the first round of competition, but then fell to Ukraine in the quarterfinals by a score of 6-2.

The U.S. men’s team didn’t have to compete in the Olympic qualifier because it won the right last year to send a full team.

Two-time Olympian Brady Ellison, one-time Olympian Jake Kaminski and newcomer Zach Garrett will represent the U.S. in Rio, along with Brown.

 

What’s the difference between Olympic recurve and recreational recurve?

Summer is beginning, and archers are heading to their backyards to sling arrows. For many recreational archers, the bow of choice is the recurve. It’s fun and simple to shoot.

The recurve also is the bow archers will be using in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer. But the recreational recurve and an Olympic recurve are worlds apart.

In this video, Lancaster Archery Supply TechXpert Dan Schuller, who competed for a spot on four U.S. Olympic teams, describes the differences between a recreational recurve setup and an Olympic recurve setup.

Since the gear used by Olympic recurve archers is more extensive, the bulk of Schuller’s time is spent going over all the different equipment used in Olympic archery.

You’ll hear him explain the purpose of the stabilizers, how Olympic arrows differ from backyard arrows, what a clicker is used for and other details unique to both types of recurve setups.

Brady Ellison talks Olympics – past and present

His face is the face of U.S. Olympic archery.

There’s no mistaking who’s behind the bow, when you see the grimacing, whiskered jaw and the shaggy, dirty blond hair sticking out from beneath the curled brim of a baseball hat.

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Photo courtesy of Dean Alberga

Brady Ellison has been one of the most dominant Olympic recurve archers in the world over the past decade.

Hands down, he’s been the best the U.S. has had to offer.

As he prepares to represent the U.S. at a third-straight Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer, Ellison, 27, of Globe, Ariz., is shooting like a – well, like a champion.

Already this year, he won the Indoor Archery World Cup title in Las Vegas, a gold medal at the outdoor Medellin World Cup in Colombia and a bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in Turkey.

He’s currently ranked second in the world by World Archery – the governing body for archery across the globe.

Ellison seems to be preparing for the Rio games with a chip on his shoulder, and that’s understandable.

Despite lofty expectations, he didn’t win an individual medal at the 2012 London Olympics, when he was ranked No. 1 in the world.

And he and fellow Americans Jake Kaminski and Jacob Wukie had to settle for a team silver medal, after narrowly missing out on the gold on the last arrow of their match with eventual winner, Italy.

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U.S. Olympic silver medal team from 2012, from left, Jacob Wukie, Jake Kaminski and Brady Ellison.

LAS caught up with Ellison in May during the final stage of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Florida to talk about the London games, the upcoming games and about the overall Olympic experience.

Here’s what he had to say:

LAS: How do you mentally prepare for an event as large as the Olympics? How does that differ from other competitions?

BE: This year, I’ve been shooting in every major competition that I can to be ready.  There is no practice that can simulate what an archer goes through mentally during a match with top competition.  Other than the increased tournament schedule, I prepare mentally like any other international World Archery event.

LAS: What was your toughest moment of the 2012 games and why?

BE:  Without a doubt, the instant that Michele Frangilli shot that last 10 to seal Italy’s gold medal win against us.  It ended our dream of an Olympic Gold Medal in London.

(Watch the entire gold medal match here. The final end of that match begins at the 21-minute mark, with Frangilli releasing the winning arrow at 22:50.)

LAS: What was something that surprised you about winning a medal? Is it different being on an Olympic podium than other podiums?

BE:  Yes, it’s much different from any other competition.  In my opinion, an Olympic medal – especially gold – validates me as an athlete at the absolute pinnacle of his sport.

LAS: What was it like coming back home as Olympic silver medalists?

BE: It was great coming home to people who were happy and celebrating our success in bringing home Olympic silver medals for Team USA, after feeling disappointed in just missing out on the gold to Italy.

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LAS: Where do you keep your medal? Do you take it out to show people?

BE: My medal is kept at various, undisclosed and secure locations as there have been Olympians who have had their medals stolen.  I take it out to show people at events when they ask for me to have it available.

LAS: Track and field tends to dominate the summer Olympics. Do you feel like there was good recognition of your achievement by the U.S.?

BE:  USA Archery and our Olympic archery team got great coverage and recognition leading up to and during the games.  I was glad to see that for our sport.  After the competition, there was much less coverage for Archery in the U.S. because the U.S. Olympic Committee focuses largely on gold medals won, with not nearly as much emphasis on silver or bronze.

LAS: For the 2016 Olympic team, is there anything that you will change from 2012 about how you compete or how you enjoy your time at the Olympics?

BE:  I’ve learned to trust myself more with the additional four years of experience and confidence that it brings.  I can focus more clearly now than I’ve ever been able to.

I won’t agree to every media request like I did in London, as it was really hectic and stressful.  I’ll do interviews for the major outlets, and for those who I know will do a great job for our sport.

LAS: Did attending the Olympics change your view of the world?

BE:  No, but it reaffirmed my faith in people.  Ten thousand athletes, coaches and support people can gather in one place with a single goal of athletic competition that rises above all politics.

LAS: What are some of the perks to being an Olympic athlete?

BE: The benefits are mostly that of personal accomplishment – not financial or material things, although once I was recognized and got out of a speeding ticket.

LAS: What was it like to be surrounded by so many world-class athletes for a couple weeks?

BE:  One of the Olympic experiences that will always be with me is the incredible amount of respect that all of the Olympic athletes had for each other. It didn’t matter what sport – everyone there knew that you were the best of the best in your particular sport and we all gave and got the same respect as LeBron James, or any  other professional or elite athlete.

LAS: What is one piece of advice you’d give a young person who aspires to be an Olympic archer or athlete?

BE:  The harder you work, the greater your success.  It takes years of dedication to work harder than anyone else to become a world-class archer.  Accept your bad days with a very short memory, but learn from them as you are inspired to work even harder.

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Brady Ellison and coach Mel Nichols will be in Rio together this summer for the 2016 Olympics.

Hard work can certainly be bolstered by great archery gear. Check out Brady’s equipment list here.

U.S. Archers head to Turkey in search of two more Olympic spots

This is it.

A full team of U.S. archers is heading to Turkey this week for Stage 3 of the 2016 World Cup, June 14-19, but all eyes will be on the women’s recurve competitors – Mackenzie Brown, Hye Youn Park and Khatuna Lorig.

The three must win a team medal in order for the U.S. to qualify to send a full team of three women to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August. Currently, only Brown is guaranteed a shot at Olympic glory.

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Mackenzie Brown

If the women finish first, second or third in Turkey, then Park Lorig – a six-time Olympian – will be allowed to join Brown in Rio.

Khatuna Lorig

Khatuna Lorig

Those three women finished first, second and third after the final stage of U.S. Olympic trials May 30 in Florida.

In competition last year, the men earned the right to send three archers to the Olympics. Qualifying for those spots in Florida were Brady Ellison, who will represent the U.S. for a third time at the Olympics, Jake Kaminski, who shot in the 2012 London Olympics, and first-timer Zach Garrett.