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Even so, Hardy inched up in the standings and was fourth when he was finished at 70 meters. He dropped back to fifth, then rallied during the final rounds at 50 meters and took third place.
Harry Gilcrest, leader of the men's world championship team in 1967 and again this year, was kneeling behind the firing line watching Hardy. "You still can't tell if he'll make the team," Gilcrest said, "but what he has done so far speaks so loud that you can't add any more. After I heard about his troubles, I had almost no hope for him. I just thought things had gone too far."
The final 36 arrows were to be shot from 30 meters. When archers move up to a shorter distance, the scene is akin to a rush-hour mob crossing Times Square. They lug folding chairs, bows, arrows, sweaters, tackle boxes, soda bottles and the remains of the lunch forward. The crowd, too, surges ahead, and now the spectators stood with their binoculars trained on each arrow.
Thirty meters was a distance for which Ward had absolutely no sight readings. He would have to shoot strictly from instinct and guesswork. His left hand held the bow rigid as he drew the bowstring back and rested his right thumb just under his chin, his swollen fingers throbbing as he aimed and held and then held some more. His first shot struck gold. Ward put down his bow and sighed. His right hand rested at his side, the three inside fingers trembling and locked in their strange concave attitude.
Just when Ward seemed to have assured himself of a berth on the team, up came Steve Wilson, 15, of Olney, Ill., drilling shot after shot into the gold. With six shots to go, Ward had a seven-point lead over the fifth-place Wilson, but while Hardy was scoring eights and nines, Steve was getting nines and 10s. No one could be sure of the exact standings as the pace quickened. Finally, it came down to the last arrow. Ward drew back, held his aim, then released too soon.
"Oh, no," said Earl Hoyt as he put down his field glasses. "He put it in the one ring."
With a worried, puzzled look, Ward turned to ask where the arrow had gone. No one told him. Word swept down the line that Wilson, thanks to his own fine comeback and Ward's hard-to-believe score on the last arrow, had beaten out Hardy for fourth place by one point.
Slowly, Hardy walked to the tent at the back of the range where the official scores were being tabulated. There at long last came official word that he had finished one point ahead of Wilson—2,298 to 2,297.
"I think I see that angel sitting on your shoulder," Mrs. Ward said to her son.