Journey to Tokyo: Texas teen earns Olympic spot in shotgun skeet

Japan 2020

KELLER, Texas (WHO) — Shooting competitively for just six years, Texas teen Austen Smith will represent America in the women’s shotgun skeet at the Olympics. While her accomplishments may seem astonishing, in her mind, her sights have always been set sky high.

“It’s hard to explain really,” said Smith. Shoot for the stars, so if you fall you’ll land on a cloud. “It’s just that I’ve been working so hard this past year to get to this point and just be among to other amazing women who’ve competed.”

At just 18 years old and a senior in high school, Austen Smith qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in shotgun skeet in March of 2020.

“It was a huge surprise don’t get me wrong there. I was competing against the world champion and people with world records,” Smith added.

The North Texas native’s dreams were put on hold when soon after qualifications her world went on lockdown due to the pandemic. Despite the adversity, Austen kept her eyes on the prize and the skies.

“What my coach has taught me, we both say that our sport is ninety percent mental and ten percent physical,” Smith said.

With the summer games postponed Smith says she needed another challenge to shoot for so she enrolled at UT-Arlington for aerospace engineering. Smith said, “It’s given me another thing to focus on since sometimes I’m unable to shoot due to restrictions. It gives me another way to be determined and to focus on something.”

With international fans unable to attend the games her biggest cheerleader will not be in attendance.

“It’s been pretty hard I will say that. I have not been able to see my grandpa which he’s another big shotgun enthusiast like me. He was really excited for me to make the team but ever since this hit I haven’t really been able to go see him,” Smith said.

Smith hopes at the end of the Olympic games, looking up into the clouds in Tokyo will come on an Olympic podium.

“It’s all about thinking you can do it. Seeing the target clearly and just believing really,” added Smith.

Austen will celebrate her 20th birthday on July 23rd which is the same day as the Olympics opening ceremony.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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