U of Kentucky Rifle Star, Will Shaner, Grabs Olympic Gold
Will Shaner, a 20-year-old three-time University of Kentucky All-American rifle team member, picked up a historic gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.
As detailed by Team USA, Shaner posted an Olympic record score of 251.6 at the Asaka Shooting Range in Tokyo, edging out China’s Sheng Lihao, to become the first American to clinch the men’s 10-meter air rifle competition. Shaner’s score was just 1.2 points less than the world record of 252.8 set in 2019. The first-time Olympian fired 82 shots Sunday, with all of them being on target and the lowest scoring a 10.1.
"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 told USA Today. "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, a senior from Colorado Springs, Colorado, is majoring in economics at UK's Gatton College of Business and Economics. Earlier this year he came away from the ISSF World Cup in Croatia with an individual gold in air rifle, just after winning gold with the U.S. Men's Air Rifle team at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. According to UK Athletics, Shaner earned first-team All-America honors this past season from the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association – for aggregate, smallbore, and air rifle – and led the Wildcats to their third national championship posting the highest ever team score in the modern format at the NCAA Rifle Championships.
As a 14-year-old, Shaner bagged the 2016 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships title in Men's Air Rifle, after four years of intensive efforts and training.
Shaner's gold at the Tokyo Olympics is the 111th in the shooting sports for Team USA since 1896 and the country's 55th. He is set to compete in the air rifle mixed team event on July 27.