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Jamie (Beyerle) Gray


Injury Forces Olympic Gold Medalist Jamie (Beyerle) Gray to Retire


There comes a time in ev-


ery elite athlete’s life where they eventually succumb to the pain they place upon their body to perform the sport they love. That time has come for reigning Olym- pic gold medalist Jamie (Bey- erle) Gray (Lebanon, Pa.) as she reluctantly retires from her competitive rifl e career.


and something that wors- ened each time she put in the training time necessary to compete at the very best. Simply put, her back could no longer bear the brunt and it told her so every time she tried.


“It has taken a toll on my


body, mind and life since,” Gray acknowledged. “At the


comfort in her back began at the 2010 World Champion- ships and has been with her every time she trains and competes. Arnot describes the injury as a degeneration of the facet joints located on both sides of the verte- brae. An MRI taken during the Olympic Games showed tearing and degeneration


tober, the pain returned. For the fi rst time, she was left to contemplate whether all the pain experienced over the past three years was worth it. Not only was the pain tax- ing on her body, but on her mind as well. The orthopedists and


neurologists that evaluated her came to the consensus that if she continued to com- pete, that the degeneration


Long considered one of the top rifl e shooters in the world, Gray fi nally got the hardware that solidi- fi es that recognition on the sport’s biggest stage at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.


would continue to worsen, leading to daily pain and early arthritis of the spine. According to Arnot, her only alternative was a surgical fusion of her spine, but with no guarantee she’d be able to realistically compete af- terwards. “With this injury came ev-


No doubt that the gold


medal she earned in London helped make the decision a little bit easier as did the new life she’s building in Ka- lispell, Mont. But more than that, Gray wasn’t willing to forego her long-term health for the opportunity to con- tinue shooting. Since 2010, Gray has


tolerated a lower back that was unbearable at times


Olympics, I had three injec- tions in my back after the air rifl e match, which al- lowed me to be successful in smallbore.” USA Shooting Team Phys-


iologist Cathy Arnot described the condition like this: “She essentially has the wear- and-tear on her spine that could be expected of a 70-year-old woman.” The severe pain and dis-


14 USA Shooting News | May 2014


of the cartilage along sev- eral facet joints and a bulg- ing disc. Just prior to her gold-medal performance in London, she received a cortisone injection without any anesthesia, at Jamie’s request, to relieve the pain. She took a year off after


London in hopes the rest would rectify the problem. But when she started pick- ing up the gun again last Oc-


eryday pain and the scare of never living life without pain again, which I am not willing to do,” she said. “I am a very active person and want to be able to do active things with my family for many years to come.”


“Jamie is one of the


toughest competitors I have known in 23 years as a sport psychologist at the USOC,” said U.S. Olympic Commit-


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