Kentucky’s Will Shaner wins Olympic gold medal in record fashion

·2 min read

University of Kentucky star Will Shaner won gold in the men’s 10-meter air rifle Sunday, adding to the United States’ second-day haul at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Americans were shut out on the first day, but won six medals in swimming on Day 2.

The 20-year-old Shaner qualified third and was steady in the finals at his first Olympics, boosted by the confidence of winning a World Cup event earlier this year. Sheng Lihao, a 16-year-old Chinese shooter with little international experience, took silver and teammate Yang Haoran earned bronze.

“Still trying to believe it,” Shaner, of Rifle, Colo., told USA Today afterward. “It has been a long time, though, growing up in the sport, progressing. To finally have (the gold medal), it’s amazing.”

Shaner was one of the top youth shooters in the country and has already had a decorated career at Kentucky, finishing second at the NCAA individual championships and helping the Cats win the national title.

“I was mostly feeling pretty calm,” Shaner said Sunday. “I did my job where I had to. I don’t focus too much on the outcome, I just focus on what I need to do and it went pretty good for me.”

Another former Kentucky Wildcats star, Henrik Larsen, competed for Norway in the event. He finished 11th in qualifying with a score of 627.4. Only the top eight advanced to the finals.

In his only season in Lexington, Larsen won the individual air rifle national title at the 2018 NCAA championships and led the Wildcats to the their second national championship.

Shaner is one of two Wildcats competing for Team USA in Tokyo. UK star Mary Tucker made her Olympic debut on day one of the Games, finishing sixth in the women’s air rifle final.

Shaner and Tucker will both compete in the air rifle mixed team event on July 27, while Tucker will also compete in the women’s three-position smallbore on July 31.

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