Michele Frangilli’s remarkable story is exclusive in archery, which he started back in 1986 when he was just 10 years old. For over more than two decades, he has taken a vast array of junior and senior world, European and Olympic titles, and has come tantalizingly close to winning every major crown offered.
Outstandingly, he is the only recurve archer to have become world champion in the triad of disciplines that is.
(Something that is more unlikely to be equaled now that the indoor championships have been discontinued.)
The most ‘unique’ thing to an outside observer about Frangilli is his skill, which seems to defy orthodox archery philosophies of simplicity and elegance. Built in the 1990s by Michele and his father and coach Vittorio, it is referred to as the ‘heretic technique’ and is designed to give complete control over the shot cycle. But Frangilli’s career has not been defined by his technique alone but it has been defined by his winning as well. From 1999 to 2003, he was one of the leading figures in the sport, and that period culminated in an individual world title in New York.
The man with the golden arrow
Sixteen years later, soon after setting a new individual Olympic record at Atlanta, Michele Frangilli hit a 10 with his last arrow to secure team gold for Italy at London 2012.
Blue is the color.
He was born in Gallarate in northern Italy, Michele Frangilli was provided his first bow by his parents when he was still at kindergarten school. He took part in his first official competition in 1986, when he was just 10, and won selection for the national junior team four years later. Concentrating mainly on the Olympic distance of 70m, he has since worn the blue of Italy without disruption. Acquiring an anchoring technique all of his own, Frangilli won his first world junior title in 1994 and was only 20 when he gained selection for Atlanta 1996.
AN OR AND A FIRST MEDAL
Frangilli collected 684 points in the individual ranking round at Atlanta, a new Olympic record and one that stood until Korea Republic’s Im Donghyun surpassed it with a total of 699 at London 2012. Fighting his way through to the quarterfinals, the young Italian archer was then beaten by the USA’s Justin Huish, the ultimate champion, and had to be content with sixth place. He then joined forces with Matteo Bisani and Andrea Parenti in the team competition, in which the Italians lost to the host nation in the semi-finals before beating Australia 248-244 in the bronze medal match.
ONE STEP HIGHER
Known on the circuit as “the Heretic Archer (Check on Amazon-Click Here)” – that is the title of his book that he published in 2005 – Frangilli won the world and European team titles three years later and took part in his second Olympics at Sydney 2000. Succeeding 19th for the knockout phase, he went out in the Round of 16 and ultimately placed tenth. He went on to play a pivotal role in the team event, however, linking up with Matteo Bisani and Ilario Di Buò as Italy attained the final, where they lost 255-247 to the Republic of Korea.
In developing individual world champion in New York in 2003, Frangilli moved to the top of the FITA world rankings, but he survived a forgettable Games at Athens 2004. After finishing a lowly 31st in the individual competition, which was won by his team-mate Marco Galliazzo, he and his nationals could do no better than seventh in the team event. Frangilli then missed out on selection altogether for Beijing 2008, a victim of the extremely high standard of Italian archery.
RENAISSANCE IN LONDON
Though he had an individual competition to forget at London 2012, where he was rejected in the first round, his dazzling performance in the team event will long be recalled. After easing through the knockout rounds, the Italian trio, which was completed by Marco Galliazzo and Mauro Nespoli, took on the USA in the final. A tight match went down to the very last arrow, with the 36-year-old Frangilli striking a 10 to give his side gold by a solitary point.
He had to strangle back the tears as he absorbed one of the most unforgettable moments of his career. “My voice has gone, I can’t describe how I feel,” said the emotional Italian. “I had a few seconds left and I just tried to give it everything I had. The arrow flew off, dead straight, and I saw it heading right for the 10. The pressure was on because the clock was ticking. We weren’t sure about winning the medal, but we’ve worked very hard and stuck together as a team.”