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Aggies archers take aim

Three-time Olympian, incoming freshman train around the clock

Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Updated: Thursday, July 26, 2012 17:07


Photos courtesy of Teresa Laconi

Senior political science major Jennifer Nichols competes in her third Olympics in London, while incoming freshman molecular and cell biology major Miranda Leek, bottom, prepares for her first Olympics.

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Aggie archers take aim

Three-time Olympian, incoming freshman train around the clock

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The 2012 Summer Olympics in London officially begins Friday, making it a very exciting and anxious time for two of Texas A&M University’s archers: Jennifer Nichols and Miranda Lee.

Archery has been at the forefront of media outlets this year, due in most part to the popular young adult book series, “The Hunger Games.” 

Although Nichols and Leek may not be using a bow and arrows to fend for their lives, such as “Hunger Games” main character Katniss Everdeen, they will aim for a gold medal. 

Competing archers have four minutes to shoot six arrows. When the horn goes off, they might spend two-and-a-half to three minutes walking to the target, 70 meter away, retrieving arrows and
 returning to the firing line.

“I feel so honored. There is nothing better than to walk in the Opening Ceremonies as your country chants ‘USA-USA-USA’ ... The excitement and energy is overwhelming and so inspiring. To wear USA on your back fills you with pride and honor as you compete for the best country in the world,” said Nichols, senior political science major.


This will be Nichols’ third time competing in the Olympics. Her first as at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, followed by the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing.


“To be an Olympian once is an honor, but to receive the honor three times, I feel inexpressibly privileged,” Nichols said.


Depending on where she is in her travel and competition schedule, Nichols finds herself training close to six to eight hours a day with her coach. 


“Here in London, we have been leaving the Village around 8 a.m. to train and don’t return until 5 or 6 p.m. A light training day for me is two to three hours of shooting,” Nichols said. 


Nichols took up archery 16 years ago at the age of 12, when her father gave her a bow and arrows as a Christmas present. 


“About a year later, I became involved with a local Junior Olympic archery development club and I discovered my love of competition. It was a rush that was absolutely addictive. My involvement grew from there until I graduated from high school and decided to train to make my first Olympic Team,” Nichols said. 


Although most of her time is spent training, Nichols intends to explore London the second she gets a free moment; in particular, taking a ride on the London Eye, the Ferris wheel looking over the Thames River.


“The most exciting thing so far has been training for the team competition with my two teammates and shooting 11 points off perfect, 229 out of 240 — truly a training record for us,” Nichols said.


Leek, 19, will take on the Olympics for the first time while preparing to join the Class of 2016 in fall.


“Wow! It is an unbelievably huge accomplishment to make the Olympic Team and an even bigger honor to be able to participate in the Olympic Games. It is so great to see all the hard work paying off as I am making more improvements and shooting stronger each day leading up to the Games,” Leek said.


Prior to the Olympic games, Leek lived at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., since February, where she would shoot up to seven hours a day.


“It is so cool to be a part of an event of this magnitude, and to have the greatest country in the world supporting me as I do my best to show the rest of the world what the USA has to bring to the table,” Leek said.


Leek said she has been fortunate enough to take in a few sites while staying in London.


“We took the underground to Buckingham Palace then walked to Big Ben, Parliament, and the Eye of London. We continued on to the London Bridge and the Tower Bridge, which have the Olympic rings hanging off of them right now,” Leek said.

The Olympics kick off Friday and many students, professors and coaches said they plan to tune in and watch.

“Both girls are extremely talented, but yet very humble. Their strength, drive and determination are amazing to watch, which makes both of them true ambassadors for the sport of archery, as well as Texas A&M University,” said Lorinda Cohen-Gomez, one of the University’s three archery coaches.




















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