Hawkeye. Legolas. Robin Hood. Whenever someone brings up the sport of archery, these fictional characters are usually the ones that come to mind. Brady Ellison, ranked the #1 archer on Team USA's squad in London, is literally aiming to change our mindset—and make sure that we think of his name before some mythical man, elf or comic book hero. He's set to get the chance (his second in four years) to make his mark—and his name—at the Summer Olympic Games in London.
While not many of us consider archery to be a real sport (or archers to be athletes, for that matter) it takes some serious skill—and a little bit of genetic luck—to make as far as Ellison has already.
Like that of many up-and-coming sports legends, the story of his prowess begins with a natural gift (20/10 vision) and an early introduction to his discipline—he got his first compound bow for Christmas when he was seven years old. The next step in the man-to-myth process begins with an almost unbelievable feat: Ellison killed a bear while bow hunting at the ripe old age of 11 (the bear is now a rug in his father's home).
After showing the bear who was boss, Ellison got really serious and decided to commit fully to his sport. He willingly gave up a "normal" upbringing in order to leave his home, move to the Olympic Training Center, and work on his sport full time while attending a special high school. At that stage, Olympic Gold was on the horizon.
But in the 2008 Olympics, Ellison failed to medal in both the individual and the team recurve archery events. Granted, he was only 19 years old, but still, a gold medal was his for the taking—and he didn't grab it. Following the disappointment in Beijing, Ellison grew hungrier than ever for redemption and won the 2009 World Indoor Championship and the US Outdoor Nationals.
In 2010 he won over 10 events on his way to earning the World #1 Ranking, which he holds to this day, having won 35 of the 37 events he's entered into this year. With any luck (and a fair amount of skill), he can cap off the first chapter of his story with win #36, an Olympic Gold Medal in London. We'll be watching to see if he takes the top prize. Because, even if we can't recall who the hell Ellison is in another four years, on thing is for sure: A gold medal win means we're just a little bit more likely to remember the sport of archery.
Catch Team USA's lead archer Brady Ellison shoot for gold on Wed, August 1, 2012 in the individual Round of 64. The check out even more Olympics coverage on MensFitness.com.