On February 9, 2020, the members for the U.S. Olympic Air Rifle Team were finalized. Members for the Men’s Air Rifle team included National Team members Lucas Kozeniesky and William Shaner. Members of the Women’s Air Rifle Team also consisted of National Team members, Mary Tucker and Alison Weisz. These four athletes have produced promising results over the course of the past three years and demonstrated their progress at the stage two of the Olympic Trials that were held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the Olympic Training Center from February 7—9.
These Olympic Trials were eventful as 2016 Olympic Team Member, Lucas Kozeniesky, shot a 633.5 on his second day of qualifications, tying the world record. This was an impressive feat as this is also a new national record. Alison Weisz also holds promise for these Olympics as she is only 24 years-of-age and won an Olympic Quota earlier this Olympic Season at the Continental American Championships.
In addition to the veteran shooters on this year’s Olympic team, it is important not to forget that half of the Olympic Air Rifle Team consists of college students in their freshman year. Mary Tucker, who took first among the women, and William Shaner, who took second among the men, were both born in 2001, which means that they are currently both only 18 years of age. These two impressive 18 year olds managed victories over past Olympic team members. Additionally, both of these are on the rifle team for the University of Kentucky. Of these two college students, the more impressive feat was performed by Mary Tucker, who secured her Olympic Team spot over 2016 Olympic gold medalist Ginny Thrasher before the finals, an event where the top eight athletes compete in a shot by shot elimination round to determine final ranks.
When interviewed after tying the world record and securing his Olympic spot, Kozeniesky said, “I can’t put it into words, but the ability to represent the nation is a lot, and to do it at the Olympics again is a big deal and I’ll cherish that for the rest of my life. Men’s air rifle has never had a medalist, we’ve had a finalist but never a medal, so I'm looking to conquer that this year.” The ambitious words of Kozeniesky bring excitement and hope for this year’s results at the Olympics. The Olympic Selection Trials for the U.S. will continue throughout the months of February and March. All slots on the Olympic Team for shooting sports should be filled and finalized by the beginning of April.
by Ryan Yi