Will Shaner takes gold in Tokyo


Gold medalist and Olympic record holder William Shaner of the United States stands on the podium after winning the men’s 10-meter air rifle on Sunday in Asaka, Japan.

Barkley Truax

Will Shaner is an Olympic gold medalist.

The 20-year-old took gold with an Olympic-record setting performance of 251.6 over eventual silver medalist, China’s Sheng Lihao, 16, who shot 250.9. China’s Yang Haoran would take bronze, giving them two spots on the podium. 

“Still trying to believe it,” Shaner told USA TODAY after winning. “It’s been a long time, though, growing up in the sport, progressing. To finally have [the gold medal], it’s amazing.”

Shaner is having an outstanding 2021. He won a team NCAA championship with UK, won silver in the NCAA air rifle competition, went on to win gold in the 10m air rifle event at the ISSF Cup in June, won gold in the smallbore and silver in air rifle at the National Junior Olympic Championships and now, he’s won the Olympics at the 10m air rifle event. 

Even more impressively, Shaner was ranked 21st heading into this event and took third in the qualifying rounds to make the final. 

His victory marked the second gold medal for Team USA in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as Chase Kalisz earned gold in the men’s 400-meter individual medley. Since then, two other Americans have won gold, fellow UK student Lee Keifer in foil fencing (the first in history) and Anastasija Zolotic in taekwondo.

Shaner didn’t shoot until after 2 a.m. ET, so many back in Kentucky didn’t get to see the 20-year-old achieve his dream live, but fans of his were pleased to wake up to the astounding news.

He isn’t done yet, as he will compete in the air rifle mixed team event on July 27 with UK teammate Mary Tucker, who will also compete in the women’s three-position smallbore on July 31.