Madelynn Ann Bernau and Brian Burrows on the podium at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020on July 31, 2021 in Asaka, Japan.
Brian Burrows called it a “Cinderella story.” If that’s true, Burrows and U.S. teammate Madelynn Ann Bernau were fitted to bronze — not glass — slippers after Saturday’s performance at the Asaka Shooting Range.
That’s where Burrows and Bernau shot their way into a fairytale third-place finish in the first-ever Olympic trap mixed team competition. They collected their hardware after defeating Slovakia’s Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova and Erik Varga in the bronze-medal match.
The American duo won a shoot-off, +3 to +2, after the match ended in a 42-42 tie. Both teams hit their first two targets in the shoot-off, but Slovakia missed its third. Bernau then squeezed off the winning shot.
“Honestly, when I put my gun (on) my shoulder, I had every nerve in my body screaming to restart, just because I could feel the intensity, I could feel the nerves,” Bernau said. “But as I kind of settled into my groove, I was like, ‘Nope, this is going to push me to hit this target as hard as I need to,’ and I just went for it. I just went ahead and did it, nerves and all shaking, as much as I could control it.”
In the gold-medal match, Spain’s Fatima Galvez and Alberto Fernandez edged Allesandra Perilli and Gian Marco Berti of San Marino, 41-40. Perilli and Berti collected the silver medal.
The 33-year-old Burrows of Fallbrook, California, who had come out of retirement in 2018, said he was calmer in the shoot-off than he had been all day.
"You get those first couple targets in, and you get to feeling it, and you just get on a roll,” Burrows said. “It was a very dramatic end. Being able to put it all together at the end is just unbelievable. It hasn't hit me.”
Burrows had hit 23 targets, Bernau 19, to tie Slovakia and force the shoot-off.
“We just went out and did our job,” said Bernau, “and did what we needed to do when the time came.”
The U.S. and Slovakia had each shot 146 in qualifying to foreshadow the dramatic final round match to come.
“We fortunately had a shoot-off before we even went into the final,” Bernau said of qualifying. “We got actually a lot of target practice. It made us kind of sharp on our edge and focused.”
The other U.S. team of Kayle Browning and Derrick Mein scored 140 in qualifying to place 13th. Browning had won a silver medal in the trap women’s event on Thursday.
The bronze medal still hasn’t quite sunk in for Burrows and Bernau, both of whom were making their Olympic debuts.
“I can't believe it,” Burrows said. “I'm sure my family's freaking out and they can't believe it, either. I didn't really know what to expect, especially in such a unique Olympics.”
A 23-year-old Waterford, Wisconsin, resident, Bernau pointed out that she’s only been shooting this sport for about five years.
“So, this is only my fifth trip overseas ever,” Bernau said. “For it to be an Olympic Games is still a dream come true to me. I had no expectations coming into this. It was a very neat experience, and I'm already looking forward to 2024.”
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo2020 to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.