When Denise Parker returns to Bingham Middle School this week, she'll have an Olympic medal with her.
The 14-year-old native of South Jordan, Utah, helped the United States team to a bronze medal in women's archery Saturday at the Hwarang Archery Field. The American team of Parker, Melanie Skillman and Debra Ochs - all of them shut out of the individual medals earlier in the week - shot consistently well throughout the day, amid Olympian pressure, and came within a shootoff of winning the silver medal.At the end of regulation, the U.S. and Indonesia were tied for second place, each with 952 points. In their nine-arrow shootoff, the Indonesians won easily, 72-67, when Skillman missed the target entirely with her first arrow.
"But we got a medal. We can't be disappointed," said Parker. "That's what we came here for. This has been a great experience."
The Americans could breathe a sigh of relief after the strong-closing Russian team missed making it a three-way shootoff by a single point.
The Soviets scored 951 points to place fourth.
Winning the gold medal, as expected, was the team from the Republic of Korea, with 982 points. Soo-Nyung Kim, Hee-Kyung Wang and Young-Sook Yun had won the gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the individual competition that finished Friday.
The 1,500 seats at the Hwarang Field, located on the northeast outskirts of Seoul, were filled to capacity early Saturday to watch the hometown women enjoy another day in the sunshine. They saw what they came to see - the Korean men's team also won - and they got a bonus with the close medals race by the women's teams.
During the women's morning qualification round, Korea scored 1,000 no-pressure points to set the pace. The United States qualified easily, at No. 2, with 988 points, as Parker, Ochs and Skillman were consistently on target. The Russians were third and the Indonesians fourth.
But when the finals began in the afternoon - and the scores of the morning round were wiped out - the Indonesians took early control. They led the entire competition after 27 arrows, and while they succumbed ground to the Koreans, they held on to beat the U.S. and the Soviets.
The U. S. managed to move into second place briefly, halfway through the competition, but stayed mostly in the third spot.
After a poor 50-meter performance (arrows were shot at distances of 30 meters, 50 meters, 60 meters and 70 meters), the Soviet team fell way back in fourth place, 20 points behind the U. S. But on the second-to-last end of nine arrows the Russians charged back, making up 13 points.
Going into the final end of nine arrows, Indonesia led the United States by six arrows and the Soviets by eight.
That set up the close finish. One that favored the Americans, and sends a bronze Olympic medal home to Utah.