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Tokyo Games Postponement Gives Olympic Shooter Lucas Kozeniesky Time To Mentor The Next Generation

By Elizabeth Wyman | July 27, 2020, 12:47 p.m. (ET)

Lucas Kozeniesky competes at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 2, 2019 in Lima, Peru. Lucas Kozeniesky competes at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 2, 2019 in Lima, Peru.


Two-time Olympic shooter Lucas Kozeniesky has proven his ability to deliver in clutch moments.

A three-time air rifle national champion, North Carolina State University All-American, and more recently winner of the U.S. Olympic shooting trials men’s air rifle where he tied the world relay record has made him one of Team USA’s best.

But Kozeniesky hasn’t always felt like the confident shooter he is today. After a Melanoma scare between his sophomore and junior year of college, not yet an All-American, and struggling with his auditory processing disability more than ever before, Kozeniesky was at a low point.

“At the end of the day I never really saw myself as a capable person,” he said.

The Olympics weren’t even a thought in his mind, and he was planning on his shooting career likely coming to an end in two years. When his biopsy checking for Melanoma came back negative, he had a sudden change of heart.

“It kind of woke me up a little, like ‘wow I need to think of myself differently,’” Kozeniesky said. "So, I spent the whole summer trying different things and really stepping out of my comfort zone, and then a year later I was on the Olympic team.”

It’s been four years since competing at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, and with his Tokyo spot secured and still another year away, Kozeniesky is spending his time away from competition with his Colorado Springs company, Team Winning Solutions, where he provides that guidance to young shooters that he wished he had at times coming up in the sport. 

“For a lot of these kids there are a lot of confidence issues with being a teenager, and I like to walk them through this whole thing,” Kozeniesky said.

Kozeniesky co-founded Team Winning Solutions in 2017 with former USA Shooting national team member and current NC State head rifle coach Emily Holsopple. He’s always had a passion with working kids in the community, so after working a few shooting camps at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center he started forming his business plan.

“Anybody can be successful in the shooting sports,” Kozeniesky said. “It’s by nature so objective and everything is adjustable that anybody from four-and-a-half feet tall to six-and-a-half feet tall can compete well in our sport; that’s the message I'm trying to convey to the kids that you can achieve what you want just by applying yourself.”

He now consults kids around the country with training plans, what competitions to attend and helps them with the college recruitment process – something he didn’t know much about when he went through it.

“I think you hear this a lot from different people around the country in different sports, ‘oh, well I just didn’t have that kind of support in my sport to understand, so I bloomed later.’ That’s how I was,” he said. “It wasn’t until I got to North Carolina State that they really knew what they were doing.”

Despite the sports world being at a near standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kozeniesky said he and his clients have been busier than ever with Zoom calls, simulation practice and learning fundamentals of the sport.

“When you kids get out of quarantine, we’re hitting the ground running and were going to make sure that you're ready to compete out of the gate,” said Kozeniesky.

While he may be currently busy working with the next generation of Team USA shooters, his goal of making it to the podium in Tokyo next summer is still at the forefront of his mind.

“That is hardcore driving me right now,” he said. “Even though I'm doing all the stuff with the business, I still wake up every morning thinking about that.”

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Lucas Kozeniesky