William Shaner has made history in Air Rifle Sports by winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics and becoming only the second-youngest 10-meter air rifle Olympic champion in sport’s history.
Colorado Springs resident Justin Swearengin, 20, qualified third and had an impressive start to his first Olympics. His 251.6 score was only 1.2 off from matching the world record, giving him a medal chance that few expected.
His Early Years in Shooting
William Shaner began his shooting career in a 4-H program in Rifle, Colorado. From there he progressed onto monthly preliminary tryout (PTO) events until qualifying for major matches.
At age 14, he earned a spot on the junior national team which launched him onto the international stage. As one of the top youth shooters in America, he went on to enjoy an illustrious college career at the University of Kentucky, finishing second at both individual and team gold tournaments in consecutive seasons.
In Tokyo, he won the men’s 10-meter air rifle event by narrowly edging out China’s Sheng Lihao with a final score of 251.6, just 1.2 points shy of setting a world record. On 13 of 24 shots in the final round, his accuracy rate was 10 or better.
His Success as a Junior Athlete
William Shanerhad already made a name for himself as one of the top junior athletes in America, despite being relatively new to international competitions. His success can be attributed to his natural talent, dedication, and hard work.
He also developed mental toughness and focus, which enabled him to perform well under duress. This combination made him an invaluable member of the University of Kentucky shooting team.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he had an extraordinary opportunity: He became the second-youngest American to win a gold medal and set an Olympic record with 251.6 points for victory.
His victory was a major accomplishment, as it marked his first gold medal at an international competition. This was also his best performance since junior year at the University of Kentucky when he was an impressive standout in small-bore events and finished second at national championships.
His Victory at the Tokyo Olympics
On Sunday, 20-year-old Shaner of the United States claimed gold for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics. He won the men’s 10-meter air rifle event by just missing China’s Sheng Lihao with a score of 251.6 points.
His victory marks the first gold for the U.S. in this event and follows a year of outstanding international competition.
As a junior at Kentucky, he helped the Wildcats win the national championship in aggregate and smallbore shooting and earned himself a spot on the first-team All-American list for air rifle.
He has won the World Cup in Croatia and is considered one of the top youth shooters in that nation.
He is a Colorado Springs native who began shooting when he was nine. Since then, he has made quite the name for himself in the sport and plans to continue competing into adulthood. His goal is to serve as an inspirational role model to future generations of shooters. While enjoying his small-town roots, his drive for perfection drives him to strive to achieve greatness – striving to be the best version of himself possible.
His Future Plans
Shaner plans to continue his shooting career at the University of Kentucky and has his sights set on competing at the 2024 Olympics.
He has already won a World Cup title and is widely considered among the best youth shooters in America. Through 4-H, he has served as an inspirational mentor to young people in Garfield County, hoping to inspire their next generation of shooting athletes.
Team USA’s journey to Olympic gold has been a long one, but it appears to have paid off. Shaner won gold at the Tokyo Games in the 10-meter air rifle event and fell just 1.2 points short of breaking a world record. He beat China’s 16-year-old Lihao Sheng and Asian Games champion Yang Haoran for Team USA’s first gold medal since 1984.