By Ian Ransom
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Explaining the difference between Olympic gold and silver can be a tough ask for a disappointed runner-up, but for American archer Jake Kaminski, heartbreak can be distilled down to three-eighths of an inch.
That tiny distance separated the United States from the men’s team title in London, where Michele Frangilli sealed a one-point victory for Italy at the Lord’s cricket ground with the last arrow of a nerve-shredding final.
American Kaminski, silver medalist along with Brady Ellison and Jacob Wukie, has had four years to stew over a result that still rankles as he prepares to go one better in Rio de Janeiro.
“The last arrow that we missed was out of the scoring range by less than a quarter of an inch,” the 27-year-old told reporters at Rio’s Olympic Park precinct.
“And their last arrow was in by less than an eighth of an inch. So a combined total, we can say less than three-eighths of an inch at a distance of over 70 meters, or 77 yards (was the difference).
“It was so gusty, so unpredictable, the wind. Unfortunately, there is a level of luck that comes into play in archery.
“But luck has a way of finding its way back to you. This year we have a chance to reclaim it, get that gold.”
Kaminski has returned to the Olympics with former world champion Ellison and the pair form a powerful team with debutant Zach Garrett, a 21-year-old ranked third in the world.
South Korea’s top-ranked trio of Kim Woo-jin, Ku Bonchan and Lee Seungyan are certain to provide stiff competition but the Americans have no fear of the sport’s Asian superpower.
The U.S. stunned the South Korean men in the 2012 semi-finals, another nail-biting clash that Kaminski felt was the real gold-medal decider.
“Anybody that has followed archery will tell you that that was the match to watch and that was actually the Olympic gold medal right there and we made a statement there,” he said.
“I feel like, despite taking silver, we knew that, in our hearts, we had won.”
Should the teams face off again, the tension will be huge, but there is unlikely to be trash talk or death-stares thrown between the rival camps.
“The Korean team that’s on the field right now is probably one of the fun teams as far as hanging out on the field,” said Ellison.
“When you have two heavy hitters on the field there is a lot of respect. I really hope it comes down to us facing Korea again, I really do.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)