Winning a silver medal in men's archery during the 2012 Olympics was a dramatic experience in itself for Team USA, as Italy captured the gold medal on the final arrow on July 28 in London.
But it wasn't the first suspenseful, on-the-edge-of-your-seat, ending for Oak Harbor native Jacob Wukie, who was among the trio of men to win the first medal of the games for the U.S.
In fact, USA's second place finish was only fitting to Wukie, who had a long road to the Olympics after battling Helicobacter pylori, a weakening stomach illness he contracted in December, causing him to cut his training in half, and diminishing his hopes of even making the Olympic team.
In individual competition, Wukie advanced to the round of 16 in London before bowing out.
"I just wasn't able to train like I wanted to," said Wukie, a 2004 graduate of Fremont Ross. "I was a lot weaker going into those trials and had to learn to be OK with training less and figuring out how to still perform.
"As far as my mindset goes, it came back to my faith. I knew I needed to trust the Lord and know that He has a plan regardless of whether I perform at the level I wanted to or not. I knew that I could make (the team) but I might not."
At the Summer Games, Wukie shot a bullseye to give his team a chance at an Olympic gold, but Italy's Michele Frangilli shot a perfect 10, shutting down Team USA 219-218 in the dramatic final at Lord's Cricket Ground in London.
"We didn't really take anything for granted, and the main focus was to be able to perform to the best of our abilities," he said. "As long as we performed well and kept everyone in the right mindset, really we were going to be happy with it. You can't control everything and how other people shoot. So we expected to go out and perform at a high level without having too high of expectations... but yeah, we did kind of in the back of our minds expect a medal."
The most anticipated competition for Team USA was the one that preceded the final, against top-seeded and three-time defending Olympic champion South Korea.
South Korea's first two shooters scored higher than the previous 72-arrow world record.
"One of the reporters came up to us and said, 'Is Korea impossible to beat? Are they too good?'" Wukie said. "They are a great team, but obviously they are beatable. And we were the No. 1 team going into that competition. We train to perform under pressure and we knew that Korea really hadn't. We were able to shoot a strong match and keep the pressure on them, which ended up being kind of what we had hoped for."
The United States secured at least a silver medal when they upset South Korea, which took bronze, in the semifinal.
"They really did have an exceptional team, but that was kind of the difference between how they train and we train," Wukie said. "They train to be able to shoot really high ranking round scores when there's not a lot of pressure. We kind of pay more attention to every shot that we take. As a result, when we are under the pressure, we know how to execute our shot, whereas they get a little bit shaky and it affects them more."
Wukie, 26, was the alternate for team USA during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
After graduating from James Madison University with a degree in biology, he moved to Chula Vista, California to begin training at the Olympics Training Center for the London Games.
An April Olympic qualifier match narrowed individual hopefuls down to eight.
"Having spent a year here before the last Olympics, it gave me a lot better direction this time. I knew I was able to get to a lot higher level and perform a lot better," Wukie said. "At the same time, there were a number of guys that really stepped it up going into this one. I was confident I could compete at that higher level, but I knew that it was going to be a battle to make the team. I didn't know if I was even going to make the top eight."
Despite an ongoing fight with his health, Wukie advanced to the final eight, before finding himself in the same position he did four years ago, battling it out for the third place spot.
Although shooting well in the first round, Wukie found himself nine points out of third place heading into the final round.
"I went out and gave it my best," Wukie said. "We all finished up and didn't know where we stood. We waited for 25 minutes for them to confirm the scores and they said, 'it's too close to call.' So we all got together in a group and waited for the awards ceremony. Once they announced the alternate I knew that I had made the team. It really was such a blessing to even make the team."
Wukie is engaged and will marry Brianne Pinkerton in December. He plans to move back to Ohio this week and hopes to stay. His last official competition is in September in Texas. After that, Wukie is up in the air with his future plans.
"The focus will now be on looking and figuring out what kind of an occupation I want to pursue and how to make that happen," he said. "I wouldn't say that I won't (try for the 2016 Olympics) but family will be more of a priority. If I can find a job that lets me train on the side, we'll see what happens. It won't be my focus and I wont be training full time, but it doesn't mean I won't prepare."