As the Tokyo Olympic Games approach, 2021 U.S. Olympic Shotgun Team members Vincent Hancock, Derrick Mein, Kayle Browning, Brian Burrows, Austen Smith, Phillip Jungman, Amber English and Madelynn Bernau are focused on preparation after a year-long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the postponement served as a shock for the athletes, they made the most of the additional training time over the past year by putting extra rounds through their shotguns.
“Preparing for Tokyo has been difficult to say, at the very least,” said skeet shooter Vincent Hancock, who won gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. “After the delay and some time off, I’ve maintained my training at a high level for the past four to five months now, working diligently to make sure I reach my peak at just the right time and that I’m ready for the tests of competition.”
Derrick Mein has been shooting Federal target loads in preparation for the Games. “I have been firing a lot of Federal Gold Medals to get ready for the Olympics. I fully expect to put forth my best effort at this year’s Olympic Games, and for me, that means eliminating mistakes,” said Mein. Taking full advantage of the extra time available to prepare, he won the Super Sporting event at the 2021 NSCA U.S. Open, held Jun. 7–13 at Claythorne Lodge in Kansas. “The extra year has given me a great opportunity to fine-tune my game.”
As for Kayle Browning, she is focused on training after a year unlike any other. “It has been a very unique situation. At first, I was really bummed out, like a lot of other athletes,” said Browning. “But once the shock of the games getting postponed wore off, I quickly realized I’d been given a great training opportunity. I began taking full advantage of the training facility that’s literally in my backyard.”
Brian Burrows said the delay changed how he expected to prepare for the Games.
“Typically, we would have shot three or four World Cups plus a test event on the Olympic range, but this time we had one World Cup and no test event,” said Burrows. “So, I have had to adapt and adjust how I prepare for the Olympics, but I am confident in my training, and it has paid off. In the one World Cup we shot, I entered the final in second place with a strong qualification score. So, even though I had to adapt my training to the delay, I feel confident.”
Austen Smith is excited to make her Olympic debut in Tokyo. “I’m ecstatic for the Olympic Games this July! This will be the first games I will compete in, and it will be the culmination of four years of intense training and sacrifices,” said Smith. “The delay was heartbreaking at first, but I found a way to convert that heartbreak into determination. Throughout the lockdowns and competition cancellations I dedicated myself to training in any way possible.”
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