WASHINGTON - Archer Brady Ellison of the United States was only 19 when he competed in his first Olympics four years ago in Beijing. Now 23, he is the world's top-ranked male recurve archer and is a favorite for the men’s individual gold medal at the upcoming London Olympics.
Brady Ellison describes himself as a “country boy at heart.” When he was young he worked on his grandfather’s cattle ranch in Arizona. He was given his first compound bow when he was only seven years old and at age 11 he used a bow and arrow to kill a bear.
It was his love for hunting with his father that eventually led Ellison to competitive archery.
“The more you shoot at anything the more fun it becomes, whether it be target or out in the wilderness when we are hunting,” Ellison said.
He said it was not long before he realized he had a special talent.
“At a young age I knew that I had something, but I did not really realize it until I started competing on the national level. Then in 2004, I made a world team and we won a team gold, and then in 2005 I made my next world team and I won individual and another team gold. You know, then was when I knew that I could probably compete,” Ellison said.
The two junior world archery championships Ellison won were with his compound bow, which is the preferred bow for hunting. But Olympic archery is contested with recurve bows that have reverse curves at the end of the bow and other different features. He made the switch so he could try for the Olympics, and he qualified for the 2008 Beijing Games at age 19.
There, he placed 27th and the U.S. team tied for ninth. Since then, Ellison has continued to improve, and he became the first archer to win three consecutive World Cup titles. Late last year he captured individual and team gold medals at both the London test event and the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico. Earlier this year, he led the U.S. men’s recurve team to the gold medal at the World Archery Indoor Championships in Las Vegas.
His coach says he is the best in the world both technically and mentally. Ellison acknowledges that he works as hard on his mental game as he does shooting arrows.
"I never want to stay the same. I am constantly changing little things to try to get better and better and better. And it is just, I do not know, it is always that pursuit of perfection,” Ellisons said.
Ellison says the calming influence in his life is his fiancée Samantha Novak.
“It is something special that she gives me as much support as she does, and without her I would not be able to go out there and train every day. I mean she is one of the sole reasons that pushes me and she lets me do this, and it is amazing what she does for me,” Ellison said.
And Ellison knows what he wants at the Olympics.
“I really want to go and win the individual gold medal. I think a lot of people want to go over and do that. It is what we train for years to do. And I am just looking to go there and shoot the best I can and hopefully come away with the gold,” Ellison said.
And since he has won more than 90 percent of his matches in the past year, you could say American archer Brady Ellison has a pretty good shot at it.