Mariel Zagunis
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Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement

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For the 76 U.S. athletes who had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics, a new waiting game has begun, and many of them are talking through their mixed emotions on social media.

Shooter Kayle Browning‘s thoughts played out in real time. She gave a glimpse of her new routine on YouTube (after tending to her dog, who had to go out) but didn’t know whether she would keep her spot on the team. She learned afterwards that USA Shooting intends to keep its qualified athletes on the team despite the postponement.

Fellow shooter Phillip Jungman also went from sadness to relief: “When I saw the news that the Olympics was postponed, my heart dropped a little. A few hours later @usashooting put out an official statement backing all of their athletes that had earned Olympic berths. I just wanted to take this moment to thank them for supporting us all in this time of so much uncertainty.”

LIST: U.S. athletes qualified for 2020 Olympics

Other athletes were relieved that the uncertainty of knowing whether they would have time to train was no longer a problem.

Modern pentathlete Samantha Achterberg: “Lots of mixed emotions, but a sense of relief in some ways.”

Fencer Mariel Zagunis, who has qualified for her fifth Olympics, quipped that she’s throwing herself a “pity party” but was “glad a decision was made sooner rather than later.”

“Disappointed that I won’t be able to go out and fence in the Olympics in 2020, but I’m relieved that the IOC is putting global health first,” said fellow fencer Alexander Massialias.

Several athletes sounded as determined as ever.

“News of the postponement of the Olympic Games means its time to adjust the goggles and refocus,” said triathlete Summer Rappaport.

“Let’s roll,” said sailor Paige Railey. “One more year to become stronger and healthier!”

“I’ve waited my whole life for this moment,” said marathoner Molly Seidel. “To make the @olympics safer for everyone I’m willing to wait a bit longer.”

“If these past years have taught me anything it is that I am capable of going through hell and high water for the sake of achieving the Olympic Dream!” said taekwondo athlete Paige McPherson.

Sailor Charlie Buckingham spared a thought for Olympic organizers:

” I can’t help but think of Japan and what they’ve endured to host the games this summer, only to be faced with the current global situation. To have responded the way they did so quickly is impressive and knowing their culture, next summer’s show will be even better.”

The U.S. softball team is adding one year to a 12-year wait since the sport was last contested at the Olympics in 2008.

“(N)othing has changed as far as the mindset, the work ethic or the goal that we have as a team,” said Valerie Arioto.

Swimmer Ashley Twichell, who had locked down a spot on the open-water team, supported the decision but expressed disappointment and urged “everyone right now to acknowledge whatever feelings they’re having – anxious, sad, confused, lonely, scared, isolated, stressed, frustrated, just to name a few – and know that they are validated.”

But Twichell also drew inspiration looking ahead: “The Olympics can wait, and they’ll continue to be the beacon of hope that they’ve always been, perhaps now more than ever.”

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Kim Rhode misses qualification for Tokyo Olympics, ending streak at six Games

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Kim Rhode‘s streak of Olympic appearances ends at six. The 40-year-old U.S. shooter failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games at the conclusion of the Olympic Trials on Sunday.

Rhode finished fourth in the women’s trials, where only the top two qualified for Tokyo.

The U.S. Olympic team in skeet shooting: first-time Olympic qualifiers Amber English and Austen Smith and, in the men’s event, two-time Olympic champion Vincent Hancock and Phillip Jungman, who qualified for his first Olympics.

Rhode, who earned an Olympic medal in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, was bidding to become the second U.S. athlete to compete at seven Olympics after equestrian J. Michael Plumb. She also hoped to become the first Olympian to earn a medal at seven straight Games, breaking her tie with luger Armin Zoeggeler.

But Rhode entered the final half of the two-legged, eight-day Olympic Trials in skeet this weekend in fourth place in a tight competition for two Olympic spots. Going into the last day on Sunday, Rhode was in fifth place, 11 points shy of the second spot. She ended up nine points behind second-place Smith.

Rhode previously said she hopes to continue competing, perhaps through the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

The U.S. is the deepest nation in women’s skeet with five of the world’s top 13. Rhode is second among Americans in the group at fifth overall, one spot behind Caitlin Connor, who also failed to qualify at trials.

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

First four U.S. shooters qualify for Olympics; Ginny Thrasher will not defend Rio title

Will Shaner
USA Shooting
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Lucas Kozeniesky, Will ShanerMary 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.

MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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