A dream came true, hearts were broken, a dynasty crumbled — all on the fickle flights of arrows on Saturday.
Michele Frangilli’s final shot earned Italy the Olympic archery team gold medal at Lord’s Cricket Ground, denying the US in the cruelest of fashions at the climax of a pulsating men’s final.
The Americans, led by world No. 1 Brady Ellison, had the gold within their grasp as Frangilli stepped to the line needing a perfect 10 to win.
With the wind swirling round the historic Lord’s stadium and 4,000 fans holding their breath, the Italian rock took the pressure on his broad shoulders, let the seconds tick down, then loosed his arrow at the target 70m away.
A hush. A whirr. A thud. A roar.
“This is a dream come true. With the last arrow, hitting a 10, it was a dream,” said Frangilli, who broke down in tears with the gold medal around his neck. “I knew I had to score 10 ... There was the noise of the crowd and I felt the pressure, so I tried to just empty my mind. The arrow flew, it flew straight, I saw it flying straight into the 10. My shot was clean.”
Frangilli’s teammates, Mauro Nespoli and Marco Galiazzo, stood transfixed as the final arrow flew to the target.
They had last missed out on the gold medal in 2008 after losing by only two points to South Korea.
Galiazzo, who won the individual gold in Athens, said taking the team title had been a priority.
“The team gold is something we had been chasing for many years.” he said. “We shot the best we could and here we are.”
For the US, winning the team silver represented a massive leap forward in their development under coaching guru Lee Ki-sik. The South Korean has turned Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Jacob Wukie into world beaters.
Potentially, at least.
They proved that in their semi-final victory over archery superpower South Korea, who set two world records in the ranking round on Friday and had won three consecutive team gold medals at the Beijing, Athens and Sydney Games.
“I’m very proud of our team ... with Jake and Wukie stepping up and shooting 10s, if I had shot 10 to back them up, it would have swung the match, but everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited about the silver medal,” Ellison said.
South Korea’s defeat left Im Dong-hyun, Kim Bub-min and Oh Jin-hyek shellshocked, but they did their best to look happy with the bronze medal after beating Mexico in the playoff.
“I didn’t do as well as expected against the United States,” said Im, who set a world record in the 72 arrow ranking round on Friday.
“My condition was OK, but somehow I couldn’t get 10 points. I need to forget about it because I have the individual matches coming up,” he said.
South Korea’s stranglehold on the team event has not been matched in the individual archery competition, where no South Korean man has ever won the individual gold medal.