Family man Ellison deflects Olympic expectations after qualifying

Brady Ellison shoots during practice at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Calm, cool and collected, world number one Brady Ellison nimbly responded to the oppressive heat and inconsistent winds to seed second in the men’s individual qualification at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Whatever hype that surrounds his fourth appearance at the Olympics, he said, is unwarranted. Sure, he has yet to win an individual Olympic gold medal to cement his legacy as one of the greatest archers the sport has ever seen. 

But he isn’t letting the pressure get to him.

“There’s a lot of people talking that I have a lot of expectations, but honestly, after having a kid, I don’t really care what anyone else says,” said Ellison, whose wife, Toja Ellison, gave birth to the couple’s first child during the pandemic.

“If I never win another Olympic medal it doesn’t really matter to me,” he continued. “Like, I’m going home to a beautiful boy and a happy wife, and my priorities have completely changed.”

It’s a good speech. But it is true? Partially, for sure, but there’s got to also be an element of Brady deflecting some of the immense pressure that’s been put on his shoulders, having won almost every major international event he’s attended since the start of 2019.

Ellison casually scored 682 out of a possible 720 points during qualifying at these Olympics, shooting a modest 337 in the first half and a more exceptional – and usual, for the world record holder – 345 in the second. 

His teammates, Jack Williams and Jacob Wukie, didn’t quite live up to expectations individually, but combined with Ellison to grab the fifth seed in the recurve men’s team event.

Whether he’s pressing or not, Ellison is still well-positioned to reach the podium later this week.

“I think that first half, I was just like, ‘it's okay, just go, just go’,” Ellison said. “Then, in the second half, we were down in the teams, in our team round ranking, and I just thought, ‘alright, I need to step up and shoot a 350 to go up in teams and get us in a better position in teams’.”

Ah, there’s that competitive fire.

Ultimately, qualifying, while an interesting test of the archers’ level, doesn’t win you an Olympic medal. It’s matchplay that counts – and Brady will, without a doubt, be playing to win.