Ellison overcomes himself to win archery bronze

Gold medal winner Ku Bon-chan of South Korea, center, celebrates on the podium with silver medalist Jean Charles Valladont, left, and bronze medalist Brady Ellison of the United States at the awards ceremony of the men's individual archery competition at the Sambadrome venue during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Gold medal winner Ku Bon-chan of South Korea, center, celebrates with silver medalist Jean Charles Valladont, left, and bronze medalist Brady Ellison of the United States at the awards ceremony of the men's individual archery competition at the Sambadrome venue during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

RIO DE JANEIRO — The biggest battle Brady Ellison had to win Friday was the one going on inside his head.

The American was one arrow away from the gold medal round in the men's individual archery when he flat out missed and registered an eight in a shootout against South Korean Ku Bon-chan. Ku took advantage of the opening with a nine and went on to win gold. In the meanwhile, Ellison had to immediately regroup for the bronze medal round starting moments later to avoid going home empty-handed.

Ellison won the bronze 6-2 against Netherlands' Sjef van den Berg, but had to get out of his own head first.

"You could see it even in the first two wins, I was (ticked) off and I wasn't in the match," said Ellison, who's been dreaming of an individual medal for 10 years. "I knew if I wanted to come home with a medal that I needed to kind of get my (butt) in gear and get into this match. I even told my coach I need to get into this match and quit being in the last one."

The week had been odd for Ellison. He had to defeat his best friend and teammate in Jake Kaminski then beat another teammate in Zach Garrett to reach the quarterfinals. The relief of medaling was apparent as he pumped his fist and let out a shout.

Ellison now has three medals after the Americans won silver as a team in Rio and previously at the London Games in 2012.

"It's been a very, very tiring week," Ellison said. "It's a long competition. Four matches a day. I've been out here since 7:30 this morning.

"It's long, it's stressful. You start off shooting against a teammate and then every single match is a dog fight. It's a long day."

Ellison's confidence, however, never faded — even as Ellison knew he was hurting himself mentally. In the fourth round of the bronze medal match, he ripped off a perfect 30 and busted an arrow hitting the minuscule video camera dead center.

"I just knew it was going to happen all week," Ellison said. "Pushing for gold, had a bad shot, but bringing home the bronze.

"I knew when I shot (the clinching arrow) that it was going high right, but it was going to be a seven or in. And I knew I was coming away with it."

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