The men’s archery team clinched the U.S. its first medal after it won its semifinal match. They took silver when they could not overcome Italy in the final.
The more fascinating match, however, may have been the one that preceded that final. The semifinals saw Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski, and Jacob Wukie, ranked atop world standings going into London, face a South Korean team that shattered records the previous morning.
Im Dong-Hyun and Kim Bub-min both scored higher than the previous 72-arrow world record. Along with Oh Jin-Hyek, they scored a stunning combined 2087.
The U.S. came from behind, just as they had against Japan in the quarterfinals. They trailed after two ends. Ellison, Kaminski, and Wukie all hit 10′s with their final arrows to seal their position in the top two teams.
The U.S. trailed through most of the final against Italy, as well. But after winning the third end, they had six arrows to make up only two points. The critical final three arrows in this match, for Kaminski, Wukie, and Ellison, were a respective 8, 10, and 9.
Italy needed 26 points to tie. After the first two shooters combined for 17, the team needed a 9 to tie or a 10 to win.
Mauro Nespoli, in a spot as clutch as anyone could ever imagine, hit that 10.
The silver was the first medal for the U.S. at the London Games. And by defeating such a dominant South Korean team, they refused that nation its fourth consecutive men’s team gold. South Korea went on to defeat Mexico for the bronze.
But Saturday’s men’s team events belong to Italy. When an archer knows he needs a 10 to win a gold medal at the Olympics, and then he hits that 10, he has earned his prize.