Roberto Hernandez upset world number one Braden Gellenthien, 147-146, to win the first-ever compound men’s Pan American Games Champion title at Lima 2019 and become only El Salvador’s second gold medallist in the 68-year history of the event.
“Incredible. I’m the first man to win a Pan American Games gold medal from El Salvador. The only other was in Rio in 2007 by a woman,” said an emotional Roberto.
“Yesterday, many people told me ‘oh we have already secured a medal, that’s enough’, but I worked with my psychologist, thinking that there was the option of winning and that I could make it. Thankfully, everything went to plan.”
Braden entered the final as the favourite as the top-ranked compound man in the world and having won all three of the pair’s previous match-ups.
But the 33-year-old was two points down heading into the last end. Roberto was simply more consistent.
The El Salvadorian archer dropped his first arrow into the nine but then didn’t miss the middle – until his last shot of the match. Needing an eight to win with his 15th and final arrow, Hernadez shot… an eight.
There was a moment of silence around the arena. Roberto’s face dropped. He looked to the targets. But then he realised that is was enough. The crowd, firmly in the underdog’s corner since the start of the final, was loud. He celebrated with his team, family and friends.
“With that last arrow, when I saw the advantage I had, I knew I needed to be in the zone, I just wanted to hit it,” he said.
Braden, who now has a three-match-to-one win-record over Roberto, was clearly disappointed.
“Losing always stinks. It’s never nice to come in second. I’m happy with silver. I’m happy for Roberto. It’s just… kind of a bummer,” he said. “I had a few arrows that broke really close to the line as far as my aiming was concerned and they landed the wrong way for me this match. Things didn’t quite work out.”
“The main goal was to take gold medals, but I think taking bronze medals and closing with a 149 makes me happy,” he said. “I hope it means a lot to everyone who has supported me and Colombia.”
The archery competitions at the 2019 Pan American Games take place on 6-11 August in Lima, Peru.