Lucas Kozeniesky, Will Shaner, Mary Tucker and Ali Weisz became the first U.S. shooters to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics at air rifle trials that finished Sunday.
Kozeniesky is the lone returning Olympian of the group, having placed 21st in Rio.
Meanwhile, Ginny Thrasher, who won the first gold medal of the Rio Games, will not defend that air rifle title in Tokyo. But she can still make the U.S. team in another event.
Tucker and Shaner are both 18-year-old University of Kentucky students. They are the third and fourth U.S. Olympic qualifiers across all sports so far born in 2001 or later.
The youngest U.S. Olympians in Rio (table tennis player Kanak Jha) and PyeongChang (figure skater Vincent Zhou) were born in 2000.
Thrasher, the youngest U.S. shooter in Rio as a 19-year-old West Virginia student, placed fifth at air rifle trials. She can still make the team via smallbore rifle trials, which she also did for Rio (placing 11th).
Thrasher was the surprise winner of the first medal event of the 2016 Olympics with no major international championship experience.
The Rio 2016 mascot was “born out of the explosion of joy that happened when they announced that Rio would host the Olympic Games”, and it’s only fitting that he met up with thrilled 10m air rifle winner Virginia “Ginny” Thrasher after the 19-year-old American seized the first gold of the games.
Thrasher qualified for the medal round after finishing fifth, and steadily ascended the leaderboard with big shot after big shot.
The win galvanized fans early in the games, as the Yanks were not expected to medal in shooting (let alone see a 19-year-old snare gold ahead of two Chinese favorites).