RIO DE JANEIRO – Jake Kaminski was philosophical last weekend when the luck of the draw put him in the same eight-man bracket as his two U.S. archery teammates for the individual Olympic tournament.
But the reality came crashing home Tuesday when Kaminski, the pride of Elma, wound up in a second-round match against his good friend and two-time Olympic teammate, Brady Ellison. Kaminski lost, 6-2.
Kaminski had survived a tough match with Brazil’s hometown favorite, Marcus D’Almeda, winning 6-2 before a roaring crowd at Sambodromo after putting up 58 points in the final set.
“It was grueling,” said Kaminski, who lost in the first round of the individual event in London. “it took me a couple ends on the practice round to calm back down. “The U.S. crowd was probably only about one-twentieth of the Brazil side, but I still felt the support.”
Ellison and Kaminski, who have won team silver in two straight Olympics, exchanged a fist bump as they walked out for their match. Ellison narrowly won the first set, 27-26, getting a decisive line call on a close arrow.
Kaminski came back to win the second set, 29-27. But Ellison hit three 10s for a 30 to win the third set and shot a 29 to take the fourth set and advance. They hugged when it ended, as Kaminski showed the class and sportsmanship that has typified his Olympic career.
He could feel happy for his friend. This was the first time in three Olympics that Ellison made it past the second round in the single competition. But Ellison wished it hadn’t come at a teammate’s expense.
“It sucked,” Ellison said. “We come all this way and have an American bracket, But it’s good for Team USA because we advance someone. At this point, I just keep taking it one match at a time.”
The bracket was based on the qualifying results from last Friday. Ellison, the sixth-ranked archer in the world, finished second. Kaminski was 31st, putting him on the line just above Ellison in the bracket.
Ellison moves to the round of 16, where he might well face another teammate. American Zach Garrett, who is No. 3 in the world, was 15th in qualifying. He wound up in the same eight-man bracket as Ellison and Kaminski.
So if Garrett wins his two matches today, he’ll face Ellison in the third round, with a berth in the quarterfinals on the line.