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US women try for first archery medal since 1988

By BETSY BLANEY,

Associated Press

Updated July 29, 2012

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LONDON (AP) The U.S. women's archery team got off to a nice start with a surprising second-place showing in the ranking round.

Now it's looking for a strong finish Sunday, one that includes its first Olympic medal since 1988.

"We all want a gold medal," said Khatuna Lorig, who has represented three countries during her career and won one medal. "If not, we'll get silver. We'll take bronze. Any medal will be good."

Lorig, first-time Olympian Miranda Leek and Jennifer Nichols make up the U.S. team that is ranked No. 6 in the world and qualified for London just last month in Utah. They scored 1,979 points Friday with 216 arrows - just 14 points behind South Korea.

South Korea has won six gold medals since the event was added in 1988.

Denise Parker, Debra Ochs and Melanie Skillman comprised the team which won bronze for the U.S. in Seoul. Parker is now the CEO of USA Archery.

Nichols, who is making her third consecutive appearance in the games, said she and Lorig have tried to use their Olympic experience to help Leek. But Nichols knows how good Leek is and is counting on her talent.

"She's a strong shooter," Nichols said. "She still holds us up at times when we're not shooting strong. I see her as an equal and a great shooter."

Leek was excited after Friday's session.

"It feels amazing," she said. "I definitely had my hopes set on being here for a very long time, and to come here and have these dreams realized is amazing."

Lorig, who carried the U.S. flag in the closing ceremony in Beijing, won a team bronze in 1992 while representing the Unified Team of the former Soviet Union. She competed for the Republic of Georgia in 1996 and 2000, then became a naturalized American and finished fifth in the individual event in 2008.

She also helped teach archery to Jennifer Lawrence, star of "The Hunger Games."

The U.S. men lost 219-218 to Italy when Michele Frangilli recorded a 10 on the final arrow at Lord's Cricket Ground, giving his country its first gold medal in the event.

Frangilli, who was part of a team bronze in 1996 and won silver in Sydney four years later, called Saturday's final a "very hard fought" match.

"I have been chasing this medal for 16 years," he said through a translator.

"With the last arrow that hit, I think it was my dream. I think it was my biggest contribution."

The trio of Brady Ellison, Jacob Wukie and Jake Kaminski still managed the first American medal of the London Games. South Korea took the bronze.

"If that's all we're known for for the rest of our lives ... I think we'll all be pretty proud of that," Ellison said.

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