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Jay Shi: A Dream 10 Years in the Making

What was Jay Shi’s secret to winning Men’s Free Pistol at Olympic Trials? +H À QDOO\ EHFDPH FRPIRUWDEOH ZLWK ORVLQJ “I had always trained Free Pistol, but never really thought I was ready for a match so I didn’t participate LQ WKH PDWFKHV µ H[SODLQHG 6KL ´, WKLQN ZKDW KDSSHQHG LV WKDW , À JXUHG RXW D ZD\ WR JHW P\VHOI LQWR WKH area where pretty much nothing really matters anymore. I made peace with myself where I was absolutely FRPIRUWDEOH ZLWK ORVLQJ DQG , GLGQ·W GR WKDW EHIRUH EHFDXVH , ZDV KRSLQJ WR ZLQ 1RZ ,·P SHUIHFWO\ À QH with losing because I’ve done everything I could have. If I lost, it wasn’t because I didn’t try hard enough, it was just because I got beaten and there were others that were better than me. There’s nothing I can do to change that.” And not only did he win – he won by a lot. Shi took the lead early in Day One and continued to build on WKDW OHDG RYHU WKH WKUHH GD\ PDWFK LQFOXGLQJ VKRRWLQJ D ZRUOG FODVV VFRUH RI


cation – more than nine points higher than his nearest competitor. By the conclusion of the match, he had won the lone Men’s Free Pistol ing 26 points.

slot on the U.S. Olympic Team by a dominat- “I thought I had a chance

before the competition, but I had to block that out because it would ruin the whole thing,” 6KL VDLG LPPHGLDWHO\ IROORZLQJ KLV QRPLQDWLRQ WR KLV À UVW 8 6 2O\PSLF 7HDP ´, UHDOL]HG I made the Team when my dad shook my hand and said I had made it and that was it! It hasn’t hit me yet — I feel like I’m still in competition mode. I’ve been working on this a long 10 years and it’s been a long rollercoaster, up and down.” Shi, 37, didn’t pick up shooting until 2006 when he learned the Olympic Games were

coming to his birthplace: Beijing, China. “After college, when I was 26 – which is old to start – I thought I might give the Beijing Olympics a

shot and that’s how I picked my sport. I did archery already and thought maybe I can do shooting. I al- ZD\V HQMR\HG À UHDUPV HYHU VLQFH , ZDV D NLG VR , GHFLGHG WR WU\ LW RXW , KDG P\ À UVW VXFFHVV SUHWW\ TXLFNO\ What I think happened is that when all of a sudden you become pretty good really, really fast, you don’t have your fundamentals developed. There are no roots underneath you, so you can topple over pretty quickly. That’s what happened to me and things just went south.” After just six months of shooting prior to the 2006 USA Shooting National Championships, Shi miracu-

lously won a bronze medal in the Men’s Air Pistol competition, earning him a slot on the National Team. He KDG VLPLODU HDUO\ VXFFHVV LQ )UHH 3LVWRO VKRRWLQJ D


Final at most World Cups. “It was beginners luck! I had no idea how it happened,” said Shi. “But it all went straight down from

there. I was shooting scores in the 530s – I couldn’t even hit a 540. And those were all because I didn’t have the fundamentals. I didn’t understand how to shoot. I had gotten lucky.” It’s a word Shi uses often to describe his journey to the 2016 Olympic Games – lucky. For years Shi FRXOGQ·W UHSOLFDWH WKH OXFN KH KDG KLV À UVW \HDU RI VKRRWLQJ (YHQ KLV À UVW LQWHUQDWLRQDO ZLQ ² D VLOYHU PHGDO at the 2015 Pan American Games in Air Pistol – he chalks up to luck. His use of the word is almost ironic with how calculated he is with everything else in his training, position and process — even with how he came to the United States. At 10 years old, Shi accidentally injured his right eye with a dull pair of scissors. ´$W WKH WLPH WKH PHGLFDO WHFKQRORJ\ LQ &KLQD ZDVQ·W VXIÀ FLHQW HQRXJK WR SHUIRUP WKH VXUJHU\ VR WKHUH·V

nothing they could have done,” Shi said. “My grandfather’s friend was an ear/nose/throat specialist at Johns Hopkins so he wrote a letter to the embassy explaining all of this so we got a tourist visa to come to the U.S. for surgery.”

52 USA Shooting News | May 2016

By: Jessica Delos Reyes Manager, Media & Public Relations

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