Today marks the two-year countdown to Rio 2016! As athletes set their sights on the Olympic Games, tensions mount as archers shoot for the chance to win gold for Team USA.
Olympic Hopefuls to Watch
Brady Ellison, who injured his right hand in 2013, seems poised for a strong comeback as Rio nears. He’s been unstoppable at domestic events in 2014, and shot a world-record-pace 687/720 at July’s Pan American Olympic Festival.
Could the “Band of Brothers” from the 2012 London Olympics reunite in Rio? Silver-medal teammates Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Jacob Wukie are all seeking a return to the Olympic stage, and each will presumably rank high among Olympic hopefuls going into next year’s Trials.
Also a threat: Jeremiah Cusick, 2012 alternate Joe Fanchin, Collin Klimitchek, Matthew Zumbo, and twin brothers Sean and Daniel McLaughlin. All have gained experience in international competition, and are shaking up the domestic rankings in a major way. Team USA also boasts Olympic medalists Vic Wunderle and Butch Johnson in their top national rankings.
On the women’s side, three emerging talents could be dark-horse competitors for Rio: Mackenzie Brown, LaNola Pritchard and Ariel Gibilaro. These three athletes train together at the Olympic Training Center, and are looking to make their mark in a competitive field. Other women to watch: Texas A&M Aggies Heather Koehl and Michelle Gilbert, and three-time Olympian Jennifer Hardy.
Five-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig is seeking her sixth Olympic team, and the hardware she missed during a crushing quarterfinal loss in 2012. Lorig also coached Jennifer Lawrence for “The Hunger Games.” Currently in question: Miranda Leek, the “Olympic archery thunderbolt,” who’s pursuing her college education right now, also at Texas A&M.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list, but these archers are definitely making their mark as the Road to Rio begins.
How will they qualify?
Surprise: Countries can’t just send their top archers to the Olympics. Every country must qualify. For USA Archery to qualify, it must place in the top eight teams at the World Archery Championships in 2015. If the men’s or women’s team (three athletes each) fails to qualify at that event, the team must then place in the top three at a special qualifying tournament in 2016.
Who Makes the Team?
This depends on who excels in 2015 during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Archery. As of today, USA Archery is seeking feedback on its draft Team Selection Procedures, which can be found online. If the procedures resemble those from previous years, they will feature three Olympic Trials events, which require archers to shoot ranking rounds (specific number of arrows for score, usually 72 or 144), and head-to-head match play. The three male and female archers earning the most points throughout the three Olympic Trials will clinch spots on the Team.
How Do I Follow the Action?
Stay tuned here on Archery360.com, and check out USA Archery’s website and Facebook page. As the Road to Rio begins, those sites will post updates and we’ll bring you stories about the celebrities who make archery look so cool.
Meanwhile, we’ll post our Paralympic Games Preview next month, which will tell you everything you must know about the next major event at Rio 2016.