But they were one arrow away from their first archery gold since 1996, which instead went to the Italians.
[ Photos: USA wins first team medal ]
The team of Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Jacob Wukie were the No. 1-ranked team in the world headed into the Games, and survived a close match with Korea in the semifinal. Italy was ranked No. 9, and defeated Mexico.
After the first round, Italy held a 54-52 lead, which wasn't a stellar start for either team, as the breeze picked up at Lord's. It increased the lead to four, as Italy scored two 10's and Kaminski was the lone shooter to fire an eight.
To start the third round, the U.S. made a statement with two 10s, but Ellison could only manage an eight. Italy went 10-9-9; the U.S. responded with 10-10-9, followed by 10-8-9 for Italy. The Americans had closed to two points, with chants of "U-S-A" from the crowd. Six arrows remained for both teams.
In the final round, Kaminski scored a 10, Wukie a 9 and Ellison a 9. The Italians went 9-10-8, giving the U.S. an opening — their lead was one.
[ Photos: London 2012 Opening Ceremony ]
But Kaminski scored an eight on his last shot. Wukie made up for it with a 10. Ellison then fired a nine.
The U.S. would need help … and nearly received it.
After his teammates fired an eight and nine, Michelle Frangilli stepped up needing a nine to preserve their lead.
Instead, he sank an arrow in the heart of the target — 10 points, and the gold to Italy with a one-point victory, 219-218. It was the first team gold for Italy in the event.
[ Related: Opening Ceremony mystery solved ]
Ellison and Co. will return to the men's individual tournament, with the gold to be settled on Aug. 3.
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