Will this be the year Brady Ellison wins Olympic gold?
A constellation of factors will determine who wins gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Some are within an archer’s control, while others contribute to a sense of unpredictability. The alchemy of these colliding forces is what makes the competition a simultaneously cruel and thrilling affair.
Only one man and one woman finish the event unbeaten. Winning Olympic gold in the sport of archery is, quite simply, extremely hard.
“I feel like I’ve had a couple of good chances to win the Games,” world number one Brady Ellison said. “We’ll see what happens here [in Tokyo].”
The most dominant archer in 2019 – one of the best individual stretches by anybody in the history of the sport, and the last pre-pandemic season – Ellison enters Tokyo as the archer with perhaps the heaviest burden of expectations placed on their shoulders.
The three-time Olympic medallist followed up his team silver at London 2012 with individual bronze and a second silver in the team contest at the Games in 2016, and he has only appeared stronger in the years since. The only medal missing from his cabinet is Olympic gold.
“Every single day is thinking about that gold medal,” Ellison said. “It’s all I can think about. Every arrow I shoot, everything I train for, it’s all about winning that gold.”
Ellison solidified his place as a favourite last month when he defeated teammate Jack Williams, 6-2, in an all-American final at the third stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Paris, France.
The two also combined with Jacob Wukie to win a team quota for the Games at the final qualifier in Paris. The USA men are seeking a third-straight team medal in Tokyo after finishing second in 2012 and 2016, although that field is exceptionally tough.
It’s likely that Ellison will also take to the field in the inaugural mixed team event.
Individual gold, however, remains Ellison’s greatest pursuit. He has established a good run of form of late, winning consecutive individual titles on the international circuit, sometimes winning even when admittedly shooting below his own impossibly high standards.
That ability to win in multiple ways – not just when he’s at his best – could make the difference in Tokyo. In a knockout tournament with devastatingly high stakes, one loss could derail an otherwise phenomenal competition.
Ellison is hoping his fourth attempt at the elusive prize proves the most rewarding. Archery’s winningest international competitor since 2010, the table is set for him to carry the success of 2019 through the pandemic and finally translate his career success into Olympic gold.
“I’m pretty confident in myself and our team. All of team USA,” Ellison said. “I’m pretty excited to go to the Olympics and win some medals.”
Believe: Brady Ellison was released via streaming on 17 July 2021.