From 49th at worlds to golden finish

Updated: August 19, 2004, 11:19 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Marco Galiazzo won the gold medal in archery Thursday, becoming Italy's first Olympic champion in the sport. Japan's Hiroshi Yamamoto won the silver and Tim Cuddihy of Australia took the bronze.

It was a surprise victory for the 21-year-old Galiazzo, who finished 49th at last year's world championships. He defeated Yamamoto 111-109.

"It was a great achievement to be the first Italian archer in history to win a gold medal," Galiazzo said. It is great for me and my country and I hope we can have the same success in the team competition," which gets underway Friday.

Galiazzo said he tries to keep his mind on his specialty nearly all the time.

"As an archer, you have to make some sacrifices. I can't go for a short weekend with my friends because I have to keep on practicing," he said.

Cuddihy, who's just 17, set a 36-arrow mark of 340 over three rounds on his way to the bronze medal and beat South Koreans Jang Yong-ho and Park Kyung-mo by single points on his final arrow.

"It's the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am very happy," Cuddihy said.

Park set an 18-arrow record of 173 in the round of 16. Cuddihy set a 36-arrow mark of 340 over three rounds on his way to the bronze medal.

He beat the record of 339 set hours before by Szu Yuan Chen of Taiwan, only to lose to veteran Yamamoto in the semifinal. Yamamoto knocked out Korea's top seed Im Dong-hyun in the quarterfinal before equaling the Olympic 12-arrow record in beating Cuddihy.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press