RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The two best friends made a pact before their archery match at the Olympics — no coaches would join them on the field. No hard feelings would linger, either.
Nothing can break the bond of bow-hunting buddies, no matter how big the stage may be.
Second-seeded archer Brady Ellison made it through the second round of the men's tournament Tuesday at the expense of American teammate Jake Kaminski. At one point in the match, Ellison put six straight arrows in the top scoring ring on his way to a 6-2 win over Kaminski at the Sambadrome.
"I look at it two ways: It sucks because you train for years and have an American bracket — just like an American tournament," said Ellison, who's been drawing comparisons to actor Leonardo DiCaprio on social media since his arrival in Rio de Janeiro. "On the other side, we advanced someone. For Team USA, it's good. For the individuals, it sucks."
These two are extremely tight. They lived together for years in California as they trained and have shared a room at the last two Olympics, while helping the United States bring home a pair of silver medals in the team competition. They mountain bike together when they can and hunt together as often as possible. They even helped each other when each of them was going through a divorce.
That's why they elected to take the stage alone, with no coaches standing behind them for guidance.
Ellison vs. Kaminski.
Just like all those years on the archery range.
"This was the toughest yet easiest match that either one of us will ever have," Kaminski said. "We know each other. We know how each other shoots. We've shot against each other more than anyone else in the world. We've also beat each other more than anyone else in the world — both directions.
"I definitely wasn't nervous. Still, it's tough because it's Brady."
For Ellison, this was a chance to clear a big mental hurdle. He couldn't make it past the second round at the 2008 Beijing Games or again four years later in London.
"It is nice to get past this stupid round," said Ellison, who becomes the tournament favorite after world-record holder Kim Woojin of South Korea was eliminated in the second round the day before. "Today, I shot through it.
Kaminski had a tough opening match against Marcus D'Almeida of Brazil. Kaminski was booed as he was introduced. Nothing personal, it's just that D'Almeida is that revered. So much so that he's called the Neymar of Archery in a reference to the Brazilian soccer star.
The crowd couldn't carry D'Almeida to a win as Kaminski put six arrows in the top ring to win 6-2.
Next up, his best friend.
"I wouldn't have picked anyone different to lose to, for sure," Kaminski said. "He's on it. He's shooting well."
And drawing lots of attention for his resemblance to DiCaprio. Ellison appreciates the notoriety, even if he doesn't really see the similarities.
"I think I've got 50 pounds on the guy," Ellison said. "But I mean it's cool. He is a good-looking dude. And I think it's great for the sport. I hope it blows up and a lot of people see that and take a look at archery, maybe follow us into the finals."
It's not the first time he's heard the DiCaprio comparisons. They surfaced eight years ago in Beijing and have slowly grown over the years. He thinks it picked up recent steam because of DiCaprio's role in the movie "The Revenant," which required the actor to grow a bushy beard and long hair.
"Just a cool thing right now," Ellison said. "But I'm not looking to use it to get into movies."