One of the Olympics lesser known sports has some big competition, but archer Brady Ellison is looking to break through the pack and bring home London gold.
Name: Brady Ellison
Born: Glendale, Arizona
Years Active: 8 (2004-Present)
Ellison broke into the relatively unknown world of archery in 2006 as the Junior National Champion and surprise winner of the U.S. Open. He proved he was there to stay in 2007 with a repeat win at the Open, a first-place finish at the Olympic team trials and another National Champion title (this time on the senior circuit).
He followed up his impressive rise with two more first-place finishes at the Olympic trials in 2008, earning him a roster spot for Beijing where he advanced to the second round before being ousted by Canadian Jay Lyon with a score of 113-107. In the team event, Ellison and his cohorts Butch Johnson and Vic Wunderle were knocked out in the first round by Chinese Taipei, 222-218.
Since then, Ellison has had his sights set on returning to the Olympics and has racked up some pretty impressive hardware along the way: gold in the team event at the 2009 Indoor Archery Championships in Rzeszow; gold in the recurve event at the 2010 FITA Archery Word Cup; three golds in 2011, two at the Pan American games in Guadalajara and another at the Indoor Archery Championships; and a repeat at the latter event in 2012. He’s been ranked first in the world twice in the past year and won all USAA events in 2011.
Worth Noting: Ellison’s coach, mentor and stepfather Mel Nichols says dealing with the pressure is half the battle in archery and has spent the past year with Ellison scouting the Olympic testing facilities at Lord’s Cricket Grounds, taking thousands of pictures and videos in an effort to recreate the range in his backyard training area.
Praise of Ellison from five-time Olympian and teammate Butch Johnson and national team coach Kisik Lee: “There’s a lot of people I’ve seen that are very good shooters, but when the pressure was on and it counted, they kind of folded,” says Johnson. “He handles the pressure well.” “Outside of Korea,” says Lee, “not may archers in the world could shoot what’s he’s maintaining with every score right now.”
Olympic scouting report: Pardon the pun, but Ellison’s living with a target on his back. Despite a current number two world ranking, it’s widely believed that Ellison will be the favorite in London, where his three main competitors, currently ranked first, third and fourth, will come from Korea, a well-established archery powerhouse in recent years. This has been a year of firsts for Ellison, be it finishes or accomplishments, so don’t expect him to settle for second in London.