Jay Shi, the silver medalist in men’s air pistol at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, earned the opportunity to compete in his first Olympic Games by winning the event at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore Monday in Fort Benning, Georgia, edging out three-time Olympian and 2008 bronze medalist Jason Turner.
Holding a slim one-point lead Saturday over Will Brown, who earned the quota slot for Team USA in the event with his gold medal at the 2014 Championship of the Americas, Shi expanded his lead to nine points after Sunday’s competition as Brown faded back to third place and Turner moved into second. Shi posted a score of 1,127 after two rounds, compared to the 1,118 by Turner and 1,114 by Brown.
Shi had his best qualifying round on Monday, scoring 565, which gave him an aggregate score of 1,698 and the cushion he needed to hold off a resurgent Brown, who had a strong final round Monday to move back into second with a 1,672 aggregate.
A native of Beijing, Shi suffered an injury to his right eye at the age of 11. Seeking proper medical care for the damage, his parents moved to the United States and settled in Phoenix. Prohibited from shooting firearms as an adolescent, Shi found a different outlet: archery. The skills acquired in that sport – exacting precision, mental focus and the muscle memory and control needed to repeat the actions necessary for shooting success – transferred well into competitive pistol.
“I think archery built all my muscle and gave me an understanding of what competition is all about,” he told TeamUSA.org after winning his silver medal in Toronto. “It’s not all about hitting a target, but about your mental side and how disciplined you are.”
Shi has two national championship bronze medals to his credit, earned in 2006 and 2013. He is in only his third season competing at an international level.