Mackenzie wins Wroclaw tiebreaker and individual title

16 August 2015
Wroclaw (POL)
After winning team gold – a first for the USA recurve women’s team – Mackenzie Brown collected her first individual international title.

The USA recurve squad won both team titles at Wroclaw 2015 and had two archers shooting for individual gold.

Both Mackenzie Brown and Zach Garrett’s matches went to a shoot-off – after they tied at 5-all for the regulation five sets. Mackenzie won her tiebreaker, Garrett did not.

Mackenzie qualified fifth, shooting a personal best and recording her highest career position on the ranking round internationally - and beating athletes like Berengere Schuh, Qi Yuhong and Turin 2011 World Archery Championship silver medallist Kristine Esebua on her way through the brackets.

Her opponent in the final was Japanese archer Ayano Kato, the 15th ranked recurve woman after qualification in Wroclaw.

Mackenzie started strong and fast. She shot 28 and 27 for the first two sets, jumping a quick 4-0 up and looking in strong command of her first senior gold medal match on the world stage.

But Kato was not to be written off.

The pair split the third set, 27 points apiece, to make it 5-1 – and then Kato turned on the heat.

She shot five 10s in six arrows over the back two sets to steal Brown’s advantage and drew the match first back to 5-3, then to 5-all – and the end of regulation scoring.

The story was remarkably similar to Mackenzie’s final at the Yankton 2015 World Archery Youth Championships, where she led 4-0 before settling for silver after Chinese Taipei’s Peng Chia-Mao shot 30, 30 and 29 to win 6-4.

“That definitely flashed through my mind,” Mackenzie admitted. “The difference today was my mental game. It wasn’t strong in Yankton – but here it was.”

Mackenzie smiled as she headed to the line to shoot the tiebreaker. She shot first and shot strong, putting in an excellent 10 and all the pressure on her opponent.

It was too much for Kato. She shot a seven.

“The last shot was my most relaxed shot of the day. I went up, I settled, put the pin where I wanted and just let it go,” said Mackenzie.

“That match? It scared me a lot! I was just trying to keep my head where it was supposed to be, just normal shots, normal mental process.”

Wroclaw 2015 individual gold and a first ever senior world win in individual competition for the USA’s Mackenzie Brown – after she had mixed team gold at Shanghai 2014 and team gold earlier in the competition in Wroclaw.

Elena Richter was stronger than Georgia’s Esebua in the bronze medal match. Richter, from Germany, took five sets to beat Kristine but only surrendered a total of three set points.

Shooting against a visibly determined Jean-Charles Valladont for the recurve men’s gold medal, seventh-seeded Zach Garrett split the first set with his French opponent. He had said during the morning he would be shooting right with his first arrow, to adjust to the conditions. Whether he did aim right or not, the arrow landed high – and it took Garrett some time to settle into the match.

He lost the second set, 28-26, but won the next two with a pair of strong 29s.

Five-three up on set points and needing a set draw to close the match, a 10 with his last arrow would have sealed the win – but Zach’s arrow landed in the nine.

Valladont shot first in the sudden-death tiebreaker, and shot a mid-nine. 

As soon as Garrett released, it was obvious he wouldn’t be beating it. The shot wasn’t one of the USA archer’s best, landing in the eight, and gold went to the Frenchman.

“On that last shoot-off arrow the wind got me a little bit. I knew as soon as I let it go,” said Zach.”

The silver marks Garrett’s first individual podium at a world event – and achieved during the 20-year-old’s first season on the Archery World Cup circuit and he said he shot about as well as he could have hoped for in a medal match.

“I‘ve been working on keeping composed,” he explained. “I did that very well today. I kept my emotions together so I was perfectly happy with the way that went. Thrilled.”

Belarus’ Anton Prilepov beat Mauro Nespoli, of Italy, to bronze in another shoot-off.

USA team coach Mel Nichols admitted that the USA hadn’t “had the best of years leading up to” competition in Wroclaw: “So we wanted to finish the year off strong.”

He explained that the 2015 team was a different mix of archers from past rosters and had gelled well, spending more time together in and out of events.

“We’re having a lot more fun. Fun is a big key. It’s so stressful out there. What I really like doing is getting the archers prepared, trying to make it as easy and fun for them as I can,” said Mel.

Having fun is even easier when you’re winning – and the USA team found serious success at Wroclaw 2015.

“This is the best World Cup recurve result in US history.” Mel added.