By Ian Ransom
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Olympic debutant Zach Garrett capitalized on the advice of U.S. team mate Brady Ellison to reach the last 16 of the Rio Games archery competition on Wednesday but does not expect to receive any more help from his more seasoned compatriot.
The pair face off for a place in the quarter-finals on Friday, another all-American match-up that will halve the nation’s chances of winning a second medal at the tournament later in the day.
Garrett and Ellison combined with compatriot Jake Kaminski to grab silver in the team event on Saturday but their celebrations were tempered by a horror draw in the individual tournament, which saw them all placed in the same quarter after Friday’s ranking rounds.
Three-time Olympian Ellison, the highest seed left in the draw, shared a regretful embrace with Kaminski on Tuesday after knocking out the man he won his first team silver with at the London Games.
After beating Canada’s Crispin Duenas 7-3 in a thrilling duel in the rain at the Sambadrome, a sodden but fired-up Garrett said he was anxious about facing Ellison but felt the former world champion would also be feeling edgy.
“I’m nervous, I’m sure he’s nervous,” the 21-year-old told reporters under floodlights at the venue.
“I’m excited that one of us will definitely go into the next round, that’s the best thing.
“We’ll talk, we’re team mates. Before this match he gave me advice and told me what he saw throughout the day of watching the matches.
“We’ll wish each other good luck just like any other match, hope for the best and whoever wins, wins. It’s archery, it’s not life and death.”
Garrett’s team silver medal on Saturday thrilled the 800-odd residents of his home-town Wellington, Missouri, and the small-town boy has been a revelation in the sport over the past year, soaring to third in the world rankings.
While the formidable Ellison stands in his way, Garrett is unlikely to be overwhelmed, having shown an impressive poise at his first Games.
With Duenas pressing hard in the decisive set of their match, Garrison fired perfect scores of 10 with his last three arrows to close it out and enjoy an adrenalin-charged shot of confidence.
The final shot which sealed it, “felt great”.
“I didn’t know it was going to be in as I let it go but a half-second later I did,” he said.
“I was very, very excited.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)