Saturday, February 25, 2012

Augusta resident Tom Kelly tries out today for Olympic shooting team -- UPDATED

UPDATE 2/25/12 at 6:00 pm: Tom posted the following on his Facebook status: "Back from the Olympic trials. I placed 47th in the nation but its not high enough to go to London. I know now what I have to do so I will be going back in four years to try again! I think next time I will make it. Thanks for all of your support while I was there! All of my friends and family mean more to me than any Olympic gold medal. You guys are awesome."

Placing 47th in the nation is pretty impressive. Great job, Tom!

End of update----------------------

Tom Kelley has bragging rights for life. One day he will share with his children and grandchildren that he once tried out for the United States Olympics.

Kelley, 21, who lives in the Verona area of Augusta County, Virginia, is at Camp Perry, Ohio, this weekend along with 700 others from across the country as they pursue their dreams of becoming members of the U.S. Olympic Air Rifle Shooting Team.

The opportunity to compete came out of a mid-Atlantic shooting match at Quantico, Virginia, in 2011 where Tom shot a perfect score. A huge trophy from that match sits in his living room along with the framed target to prove the deed. 

Tom drove to Ohio on Thursday and spent Friday practicing  for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Airgun before competitive shooting begins this morning with men and women competing in 10m Air Rifle and Air Pistol categories.

Scores will be tallied after today's competition and USA Shooting will announce six athletes on Sunday who will make up the U.S. Olympic Team with two on the 10m Air Rifle Team, two on the Women's 10m Air Rifle Team, and two on the Men's 10m Air Pistol Team. Nominees will be announced at an awards ceremony tomorrow evening.

Tom has had plenty of practice shooting air rifles. He spent years, beginning when he was ten years old, with the Augusta County 4-H Sports Shooting Club that met bi-weekly, honing his skills with air rifles under the leadership of instructor Don Studer with assistance from local volunteers such as his dad, Terry Kelley, Bill Mitchell, Art Salatin, and other dads who had children participating in the program.

A homeschooled student in grades K-12, Tom attends Blue Ridge Community College and spends numerous volunteer hours, along with his family, in community service. Tom is a volunteer firefighter with Augusta County's Company 10 Fire Department along with his dad who is also a volunteer firefighter. His brother is a paramedic who drives an ambulance for S.A.R.S., and his mom is also a paramedic.

Last fall, Tom volunteered as campaign manager for Independent candidate David Karaffa who won election as an Augusta County supervisor representing Beverley Manor, the district where Tom lives.

All athletes nominated this weekend to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team must be approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Tom Kelley listened while attending the February 22, 2012, Augusta County supervisors meeting.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
22 February 2012

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