A great story unfolded on the field at Lujiazui between the 15-arrow match world record holder Mike “Mister Perfect” Schloesser and the 2015 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final Winner Demir Elmaagacli.
The pair had met twice before: In the quarter-finals at Antalya 2015 and the fourth round at Antalya 2014 – and Schloesser had won both encounters.
Mike had already set a world record on Wednesday in Shanghai, and Demir, despite only qualifying in 30th, had hammered the brackets and put in a 150 in his semifinal. (Like Mike!) With both archers in such form, the stage seemed set for a monster battle.
But Mike, who was barely able to miss the 10 in qualification, opened with an eight. Demir replied with a 10 – and then four more in succession. Two more eights in the second end, and Schloesser was six points down. What was happening?
The last arrow of the fifth end. The wind picked up just a little across the water.
Demir fumbled with an arrow. As the clock ticked down, he couldn’t get it on the rest. The horn sounded. It registered as a miss, to gasps from the crowd.
Shaking his head, his game fell away. Mike finally found his mark and pounded three 10s on the third end. Elmaagacli could only reply with 28. Mike shipped another eight in the fourth – but the match was already off the cliff.
Demir found the middle and clawed another point back in the last, but Schloesser took gold, 139-135 – one of the lowest-scoring men’s finals we’ve ever seen at a Hyundai Archery World Cup event.
Asked about the miss, Demir was upbeat.
“I ran out of arrows,” he admitted. “I had to use an arrow I knew was ‘bad’, and it fell off the rest and I wasn’t able to shoot it. It was sad not to get a gold medal, but a silver medal is a good start to the season.”
But what about Mike Schloesser?
It turned out he was using a different release to the one he shot his world record score with on Thursday. He had switched from a trigger release to a back tension release to work on problems with nerves.
“I’ve been struggling a bit lately in finals, I’ve been trying something new, but it wasn’t the way to solve it. I think I know which way I need to go now,” he said.
A ‘hinge’ back tension release is often used by archers during matches to help with proper execution under pressure. Any issues, though, can show up if it doesn’t go to plan.
“The eights… at first I could imagine it was like the wind blowing them over, but some just weren’t good shots. I can’t really explain it,” said Mike.
“I’m happy to win. Of course, I would love to win shooting better than this. But it’s enough. I can work on it. That’s the only thing I can do.”
In the bronze medal match, Michael Brosnan of Australia – last seen on the international stage here in Shanghai two years ago – took a bronze medal against top Dutchman Peter Elzinga this afternoon. Despite qualifying in just 44th, he upset Alexander Dambaev and Patrick Laursen before falling to Schloesser in the semis.
“It was good enough for me. I needed some time away from the sport for a while, but I’ve come back fresh,” said Brosnan. “It’s back to domestic competition after this. I’ve got a full time job and a family. But I’ll be back next year for the world championships.”
His victory was perhaps a surprise over the much decorated Elzinga – a silver medallist at the very first Archery World Cup Final, and in enough form to put in a 150 in the third round. Afterwards, Elzinga seemed rattled.
“I don’t really know. In the beginning I think I was just shooting a little too fast. I wanted to have the same rhythm of the last week. I think it was too quick,” he explained.