TOKYO – Although the Asaka Shooting Range was somewhat noisy, Kayle Browning could still make out her father’s words in her brain thanks to the earplugs she had brought along.
K. Browning Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
She remembered the advise of Tommy Lynn Browning, the national sporting clay champion, after missing her opening three shots in the women’s trap final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Even if you’re behind or fall short, he urged me, “Never give up. Just give it your all until the very last shot, because whatever is meant to be will be regardless of how well you perform,” she said.
“He’s been telling me that all my life.”
On Thursday, Browning clinched the silver medal in the Olympics by batting.298 with a streak of 19 consecutive hits.
Browning led after 17 hits, but she finished with 42, losing to Slovakia’s Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova, who set an Olympic record with 43. With her 29 hits, Alessandra Perilli of San Marino won the country’s first Olympic medal in any sport. The tiny Mediterranean nation of San Marino, home to just 34,000 people, holds the record as the world’s least populous Olympic medalist.
Corey Cogdell’s bronze medal performances in 2008 and 2016 helped the United States women’s trap team earn a total of three medals at those Olympic competitions.
A member of Team USA in 2012, Browning remarked, “This is the pinnacle of my career. “I’ve worked for this moment my whole life, so I don’t really have words to describe it yet, but I’m absolutely proud.”
Five rounds of qualifying were held over two days to start the trap competition.
“I felt tremendously prepared,” said Browning, who won both the team and individual crowns at the 2018 Championships of the Americans and was on the winning team at the 2019 World Championships. “Usually, I get apprehensive before a shoot, but I felt incredibly prepared, calm, and confident with this one.”
Browning was in ninth place after three rounds on Wednesday, shooting a 71. (23-24-24). Thursday morning she shot a 24, then in the afternoon she shot a 25 to tie for fifth place, and then in the shoot-off she was given the sixth and final spot.
There was a time in the qualifying round where she was in seventh place, but when shooters from other countries began to make mistakes, she moved up to sixth.
Browning said, “I knew that I needed to bring my A game the second day, and I also knew that I needed a little bit of luck to get in,” adding, “And happily the cards played out for me and I’m really glad that, but I worked hard for it.”
There was no talisman or charm that could have saved her. Browning, who picked up a gun for the first time at age 8, stated, “I just try to rely on my talents.”
Her colleague Madelynn Ann Bernau, who was in seventh with 119 hits, was beaten out by her.
Rehak Stefecekova, meanwhile, was dominating the range. She set a new world record and Olympic qualifying mark with 125 hits without missing. Rehak Stefecekova, who won silver in the Olympics in 2008 and again in 2012, was pregnant and unable to compete in 2016.
Later on Thursday, though, the championship match began, and the Slovakian was no longer unbeatable. Out of her first 15, she only made five, and she missed the first one in front of Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee.
Browning, 29 and from Wooster, Arkansas, said of the rival, “she’s always a strong competitor.” I had a good feeling that she wouldn’t have a lot of misses. To miss is of little consequence. It’s imperative that you press forward. I was trying to get my mind off the fact that she was a formidable opponent.
When shot, the orange clays used in the sport produce a cloud of pink smoke.
Browning exclaimed, “Oh, that’s such a thrilling time, especially the pink cloud. It gives you the same pleasant sensation as if you had smoked it after only chipping it.
“I try to study the shot and figure out why I missed, if it was either nervousness or something mechanical I did, and attempt to remedy it for the next shot,” she said of the times when the clay shatters on the ground rather than in the air.
After the elimination of the other shooters, the final 10 shots were a head-to-head match between Browning and Rehak Stefecekova, who both had six misses.
Browning was unsuccessful in her first and fifth attempts, while the Slovak was unsuccessful in her fifth. The final five scores were identical, with the exception that the American was one point short.
In the mixed team event, she will be paired with Derrick Scott Mein of Team USA on July 31. When qualifying for the men’s trap event, Mein finished in the 24th position with 119 hits, and Brian Burrows, who will be paired with Bernau in the mixed team, finished in the 12th position with 121 hits.
Three medals have been earned by the United States shotgun team in Tokyo. Amber English and Vincent Hancock each won gold in the skeet competitions.
Browning may have termed her silver medal the “pinnacle” of her career, but it hasn’t stopped her from continuing to work.
It’s just so far,” she said. Maintaining a relentless pursuit of success.