Silence thickens as Henry Leverett steps up to aim his pistol.
Seconds later, with five different targets hit, he is one step closer to his goal of competing for Olympic gold. As the Ohio State pistol team is underway in another season, four shooters have an additional competition on their mind: the Olympics.
With less than eight months until the Olympic torch is lit, Buckeye pistol shooters Katelyn Abeln, Ada Korkhin and siblings Abbie and Henry Leverett are in the midst of a long journey seeking a ticket for Paris 2024.
The shooters recently finished part one of the Olympic trials in Fort Moore, Georgia. They each placed in the top five for their respective events and are now attempting to secure a spot to represent Team USA in the Olympics for summer 2024.
For some, the process is not new. Korkhin, Henry Leverett and Abeln all participated in the Tokyo Olympic trials in 2020, which helped prepare them for this Olympic journey.
“The first [trials] we got the jitters and nerves out,” Henry Leverett said. “So [for] the second time, we knew what to expect. It’s the same group of people for the most part. It really just felt like a big family reunion. Not as many nerves as before.”
The results from the first set of the Olympic trials proved the toughness and capability of this Ohio State pistol team, as no other university had so many of its athletes sweeping the leaderboards.
Henry Leverett placed second overall in the men’s 25m rapid-fire pistol event, while Korkhin was first in the women’s 25m sport pistol event, followed by Abeln in second. Abbie Leverett came in fifth place.
In the 10m air pistol event, Abeln placed second and Korkhin shot for fourth place.
Korkhin thanked Ohio State’s coaching staff for her preparedness during this higher-level competition.
“It’s really fortunate that we have [the coaches] here,” Korkhin said. “They provide us with training schedules and one-on-one coaching.”
Ohio State pistol head coach Emil Milev plays a critical role in preparing these athletes to compete on the world’s biggest stage. After competing in six Olympic games himself, much of his coaching technique is pulled from personal experience.
“I’m trying to help them polish different sides of their skillset and give them more tools,” Milev said. “When they practice, [they] learn more about the event itself and what it takes to shoot a little better.”
Part two of the pistol Olympic trials will take place in early December 2023, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
With such a lengthy period between competitions, the athletes will fill their time with practices five to six days a week and sporadic collegiate matches.
In the end, Team USA will plan to take a total of eight pistol shooters to Paris: four men and four women. They will have two more trials to participate in before the spots are selected.
“Nerves are always there,” Henry Leverett said. “But it’s exciting because we’re getting closer and closer to Paris.”