University of Kentucky Wildcat Will Shaner, 20, took the gold medal in the men’s 10-meter air rifle competition in the “2020” Olympic games. Shaner, originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the second-youngest to take the gold medal as well as the youngest man to represent Team USA in this competition.
The last few shots in the final were close, even though Shaner held a 1.5-point lead over China’s Sheng Lihao, just 16, who would later take the silver medal. He maintained at least a 1-point lead for 12 shots throughout the final, and held on to the very end despite taking a slight stumble in scores.
Going into the final Shaner had a score of 231.3 to Sheng’s 229.8. In third place was Yang Haoran, 25, having scored a 229.4. Another American from Colorado, Lucas Kozeniesky, 26, held sixth place.
Despite scoring slightly higher than Shaner in the final shots of the match, Sheng was unable to close the gap and Shaner kept his lead, finishing with a score of 251.6. Sheng still managed an impressive 250.9.
Shaner’s score sets a new Olympic record. His lowest score on any shot was a 10.1. It’s also a first for Team USA. The event took place at the Asaka Shooting Range in Tokyo, Japan.
“Still trying to believe it. It has been a long time, though, growing up in the sport, progressing. To finally have (the gold medal), it’s amazing,” Shaner said in an interview. “I just did the same thing as I did there and just worked out the problems I had and just knew that it was going to get me to where I wanted to be.”
Shaner wasn’t the only University of Kentucky Wildcat to compete in this year’s Olympic games. Mary Tucker, 19, finished sixth in the Women’s 10-Meter Air Rifle game, after taking the gold medal in the 2021 ISSF World Cup.
Shaner and Tucker are both slated to compete in the Air Rifle Mixed Team match this July 27, while Tucker will go on to shoot in the women’s Three-Position Smallbore game on July 31.