Shooter Lee Bo-na taking last shot at Olympic glory in Paris

Korean shooter Lee Bo-na particiaptes in final game at the shooting range hall, in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, Sep. 25, 2014. Yonhap

Korean shooter Lee Bo-na will turn 43 on July 22, four days before the start of what will be her third Olympic Games in Paris.Some 23 years after her international career began, Lee feels Paris will likely be her last Olympics. And she wants to savor every moment of the process that will get her there.”If the team needs me and if I can stay competitive, then perhaps I can think about another Olympics. For now, though, I think this will be my last one,” Lee said during a break from her opening training session at Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, some 85 kilometers south of Seoul, on Monday. It was held as part of the national team media day in the buildup to Paris 2024.

Among 14 Korean shooters bound for the French capital in July, Lee, who competes in trap, is the only one with an Olympic medal. She won silver in the women’s double trap and bronze in the women’s trap at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Lee remains the only Korean shooter with an Olympic medal in a shotgun event, with 15 other shooting medals having all come in rifle or pistol disciplines.Lee also represented Korea in 2008 in Beijing. And now she is back for another go this summer, 20 years after her Olympic debut.”I know there are some older shooters still active, but I am usually the oldest at a competition these days,” Lee said with a wry smile. “That’s when it hits me that I’ve been doing this a long time.”

Lee said her perspective has changed over the years.”Back in 2004, I just didn’t have any idea what the Olympic Games were all about,” Lee said. “I figured I would just go up there and grab a medal. I did not know there would be so much pressure. I am feeling the burden this year, too. But I am trying to have fun, focus on the process and not get caught up in results.”And that’s consistent with the message she imparts on her two younger teammates in shotgun, Kim Min-su in the men’s skeet and Jang Kook-hee in the women’s skeet. They were three and four years old, respectively, when Lee won her two Olympic medals.”I tell them winning an Olympic medal doesn’t necessarily make you happy, and not winning a medal doesn’t mean you are a failure,” Lee said. “I also tell them that you shouldn’t go to the Olympics in pursuit of happiness. Making it to the Olympics should be your goal but nothing beyond that.”

Lee said watching Kim and Jang takes her back in time.”Honestly, they work so much harder than I do. I went to my first Olympics at their age, and so they remind me a lot of my younger self,” Lee said. “And they have so much passion for shooting. I think they have so much going for them, not just for this year but for the future. I am worried about them.”Lee said she would like nothing more than to go out on top with her first Olympic gold medal. And she wants to do it not just for herself, but for the future of shotgun shooting in Korea.”In shotgun, so many semi-pro clubs have folded and we’ve been losing shooters,” Lee said. “I should take it upon myself to win an Olympic gold this time, so that it could lead to more teams being launched and talented shooters will have a place to compete. I think that’s really the only 안전 thing I can do as one of the older athletes.”

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