RIO DE JANEIRO — Jake Kaminski bowed down before the trio of South Korean archers that had just deprived Team USA of the gold medal at the Rio Olympics.
Only it wasn’t a nod to their culture.
“You’ve seen ‘Wayne’s World’ right? ‘We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!’ That was my bow,” he said.
“We got outclassed. A match like that had never been shot before. That would have been a world record, if world records still existed in that format.”
But South Korea was on another plane of existence at the Sambodromo Saturday evening, shooting a 177 to capture the fifth gold men’s team archery medal in its nation’s history.
“They shot amazing. That was a world record performance they put on. You’re probably never going to see three sets scoring that high probably ever again,” said Ellison, who also won silver with Kaminski in the 2012 London Games. “They only dropped three [points]. It’s not like any of them really messed up.”
It was a much different environment than in London, where the archery events were held at Lord’s Cricket Ground, which was picturesque but had challenging winds. Sambodromo, which was built specifically for Rio Carnival, is also picturesque – gorgeous mountain views, including one of Christ the Redeemer. But windy, it was not.
That’s by design. Besides the grandstands that blocked the wind, there were additional walls built inside the stadium to reduce the wind even further.
The result? A perfect environment for the South Koreans to dominate in.
“The wind wasn’t a factor. If there was any wind … I think one and two would have been switched,” said Kaminski. “They shoot in these conditions every day. We really shine in wind.”
Ellison said that’s because everywhere you shoot in the U.S., there’s wind. “It’s hard to beat Korea on a perfectly calm day,” he said, smiling. “We’re not used to this calm stuff. Gives us target panic.”
For Ellison, the focus shifts to the individual competition, with the men’s medal matches set for Aug. 12. He was upset in the second round in London despite heavy hype that he could medal.
But for now, Ellison relishes his team’s silver medal in Rio. Because sometimes, the better team wins on that day, and there’s nothing your team can do to prevent it.
“We shot good. Korea just beat us. It’s different when you walk off the field feeling like, ‘We just won silver’ instead of, ‘We just lost gold,'” he said.