If the American men are going to return to the medal podium in archery -- they won team gold in 1996 and team bronze in 2000 before missing out in Athens -- they likely will be led by a 19-year-old making his Olympic debut. "As far as I'm concerned, he's the best in our country," 52-year-old Butch Johnson said of Brady Ellison.
Johnson was a member of those medal-winning teams from Olympics past. But now he seems ready to acquiesce to Ellison, who won all three stages of the grueling eight-month trials process.
Even two years ago, that might have seemed absurd. Though international archery competitions generally involve two disciplines -- compound bow and recurve bow -- only recurve competition is held at the Olympics. Ellison grew up in Arizona hunting with a compound bow, one that involves an elaborate series of levers and pulleys. He made the switch to recurve only in late 2005, and got on the fast track to the Olympics by finishing sixth at a test event in Beijing last year.
Now, he finds himself charged with leading the U.S. men back to some hardware. "I really think we can do it," he said. -- Barry Svrluga
ATHLETES TO WATCH
Khatuna Lorig, U.S. Lorig was 18 in 1992 when she won a bronze medal in the team competition for the Unified Team, which comprised athletes from 12 republics of the former Soviet Union. In 1996 and 2000, she competed for her native Georgia. In 2005 she became a U.S. citizen, and thus will represent her third country in her fourth Games.
Im Dong-hyun, South Korea It should make sense that the leading archer from the world's leading archery nation would be the easy pick for gold in Beijing. Im, too, has the credentials, having helped South Korea to the men's team gold in 2004. But the South Koreans have, inexplicably, failed miserably in individual competition ó just three medals, and none since a bronze in 1996.