TOKYO — University of Kentucky rifle star Mary Tucker started her Tokyo Olympics with a sixth-place finish in the women’s air rifle final on Saturday at the Asaka Shooting Facility.
Tucker, who posted the third-highest qualifying score during the first stage of competition to earn one of eight spots in the final, shot a 166.0 in the final to earn sixth place. She will compete two more times in this summer’s Olympic games, participating in the women’s three-position smallbore (July 31) and air rifle mixed team (July 27).
Earlier this year, the native of Sarasota, Florida, became the first Kentucky rifle athlete to qualify for the Olympics in both smallbore and air rifle. She is joined in the air rifle competition in Tokyo by UK rising senior Will Shaner, who qualified with her last spring. The men’s air rifle competition is set for July 25.
The 2020-21 season has been a banner year for Tucker, who most recently shined at the USA Shooting Junior Olympic Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in May. Tucker won gold in smallbore and finished fifth in air rifle at the event. Earlier this year, Tucker led the Wildcats to their third national championship posting the highest ever team score in the modern format at the NCAA Rifle Championships. The national championship capped an impressive season for the Wildcats that included a new school-record team score and a share of the Great America Rifle Conference Regular-Season Championship.
Tucker’s trophy case continued to grow after she won the International Shooting Sport Federation Women’s Air Rifle 10m Gold Medal in April. That win was on top of her earning the most outstanding performer honor at the NCAA Championships in March. The sophomore took home every top crown possible at the championships, winning smallbore individual gold, air rifle individual gold and the overall crown.
Tucker was tabbed the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association Athlete of the Year for the second straight season this year. She also earned three top honors from the CRCA as an aggregate, smallbore and air rifle first-team All-America honoree. This is the second straight season she has earned first-team All-America honors from the CRCA.
During her sophomore season with the Wildcats, Tucker averaged 592.417 in smallbore and 597.75 in air rifle this season for an aggregate average of 1190.167. Tucker had the highest individual smallbore score in the nation this season of 597, while she was the only athlete in the nation to score 595 or higher in smallbore multiple times. In air rifle, Tucker was one of three athletes to post a perfect 600. Overall, Tucker scored a 1195 aggregate twice this season, which was the highest combined score in the nation.