ELEY recently welcomed Olympic Silver Medallist, Mary Carolynn Tucker to our UK Test Range.

Mary has won 25 International medals in her career so far as well as 11 NCAA titles.

Our objective was to match the perfect batches of ELEY Tenex to her barrels, giving Mary the best opportunity to win gold this summer!

Welcome to ELEY, Mary! Please tell us how excited you are to be in the UK?

Thank you very much for having me! I arrived early on the 18th from New York City, Team USA had a big media summit there that I was lucky to be a part of. It was a full day, from 7am to about 8pm of interviews, photo and video, and speaking panels. I am happy I was able to represent shooting sports on such a large scale, and I am very excited to be here. I have never been to the UK before, but I have many friends from here and they are lovely people so I knew the country would be great. I am quite lucky with the weather now and look forward to coming back in the future“.

Please tell us why you are here?

I am here to, finally, conduct my first ever 50m testing session. I have always known that this is an important part of top athletes preparations, so I have been trying to schedule coming here for over a year, unfortunately with competitions and equipment problems I haven’t been able to come before now. I am excited to really see what testing is like and see some great results, and most importantly to see how having tested ammunition can elevate my shooting game“.

How did you get into shooting sports?

I began shooting in high school, without suits or anything, and was absolutely horrible, so much that many people were telling me maybe I should find something else to do. I quickly quit that team in 2017 and went to YouTube to see what the top shooters were doing. I figured that if I bought the same equipment and put myself in the same positions as the top 8 in the videos, then I could make it there. It worked for a little while until I found my personal coach Jayme. She is a 2x Olympic finalist and brought in new ideas and techniques that really propelled me forward. Now I am fortunate to work with Matt to further my shooting even more. Prior to shooting, and even a little overlap in the beginning, I was an equestrian. I have been riding horses since I was barely walking and it has definitely taught me the most about confidence and accepting failure. I hope to get back to it someday, but for now I don’t have much time for hobbies, unless you consider recovery and sleep a hobby“.

Please tell us about your last 12 months and your build up to the summer ahead in Paris?

The last 12 months have definitely been a lot. I guess a year ago I had surgery on my knee and graduated from University, then some World Cups and World University Games. Then I kind of began very slowly moving from the US to the Czech Republic around August, and we had our first Olympic trials in September. I hit a really rough spot after those trials because I wasn’t projected to make the team and it seemed like all of my equipment wanted to retire at the same time. I made some changes and went to my first Pan-American Games which turned out to be a great event for me. The end of the year had WC Final and some more Olympic trials, which were rough but a little better. Now the beginning of the year we finally finished trials and my last NCAAs, which both ended extremely stressfully and I am finally rounding out recovery from that now. Looking forward we have two more WCs and potentially some training camps but I will be staying in Europe, predominantly in Czech as long as Jirka won’t become too annoyed with me. I look forward to getting a little break after Paris“.

Do you have any set routines, superstitions or rituals when you train or compete?

I don’t have much routine really, I used to but recently I have been adding a bit of fluidness to try and keep myself motivated. I will say I have a lucky sports bra that I wore during my very first competition and I still wear for every single one. I wash it of course, but I only wear it for matches. I guess the only other thing would be staying away from negativity before and while I shoot, I believe being positive will create positive outcomes, so I will remove myself if I hear negativity anywhere around me“.

What do you believe are the greatest challenges athletes are facing in the world today?

I think the greatest challenge athletes face is learning and embracing themselves as humans. I think in a lot of places, but especially in the US, athletes kind of solely tie themselves to their sport. This can cause a lot of harm when performances aren’t there or when media and fan attention turns negative. We have seen an increase in mental health fatalities in US sports because there is no separation of self-worth as an athlete and self-worth as a person. When they get tied together it’s a recipe for disaster, but luckily there is becoming an increased awareness for that, and there are efforts to try and separate the two lives a little bit. For individuals reading the best way to try and help yourselves with this is by taking the time to evaluate who you are in the moment, and who you actually want to be, then being accepting of yourself to try and work towards the latter“.

Which strengths do you believe you have that make you a great athlete?

I think in general and in shooting sports for me is kind of the same. I believe my greatest strengths are my belief and confidence in myself, as well as my learned acceptance of emotions and feelings. Having the belief that I can achieve anything I want to and having the confidence in my trainings and preparations are instrumental in my success as an athlete. Off the range I need a little confidence still, but it’s an ever-evolving process that I am happy to work on. On the acceptance side I am talking both about what I am physically feeling and what I am emotionally feeling. It is easy for athletes to ignore how their bodies feel in favor of results, but I have been working on listening to those pains more and finding ways to help them feel better so those parts can help me be better. Mentally I am accepting of when things aren’t that great; if I am feeling negative, worried, upset, or anxious I can ask myself why and instead of becoming frustrated really just allow those feelings to come out however they want. That is important because now I can work with them instead of spending energy trying to bury them“.

We know that you are a great advocate for Mental Health. Do you have any advice for those going through tough times, both on and off the range?

Thank you, I think mental health should be a huge priority for people in general and especially those in sports. Like I mentioned earlier, really knowing yourself can help you improve your quality of life as well as your results. Sports are difficult, and that’s okay, but no one should have to feel like they are going through it alone. I have always struggled with my mental health, and when I first started shooting it seemed like no one else did. I was in denial and was trying to seem like everything was fine because that is what those at the top were doing. As I got more experience, I learned that everyone was struggling to different extents and with different things, but on one wanted to be judged so nothing was said. After my first few, very difficult, years in University I decided to speak out. I started sharing how I truly felt and how I had been feeling, as well as trying to understand myself better and change into someone I actually liked. A lot of negativities came with this at first because it was different. I think ultimately the people who reacted poorly are those who need the most help, because they don’t want to think about something very real. Now I receive a lot of messages about how people are getting help and they feel like they aren’t alone anymore, and that is the goal. My advice to people struggling is to talk about it, no matter how difficult it is, and look at it in a learning brighter light. Having mental health struggles doesn’t mean you need to be fixed, and it doesn’t mean you deserve less, it just means there is something you need to climb over. Reach out to anyone or everyone and just talk, you will feel a lot better after that“.

We saw your image of your impressive medal and trophy haul from your 5 years in NCAA with West Virginia Rifle Team (WVU) – What are your plans for the future?

My short-term goals are definitely to continue shooting as long as I possibly can. I am still relatively young in the sport having only been competing for about 7 years, so I think there is a lot still left for me to do. My long-term goal is to become one of the names that is remembered in this sport, and in order to do that I have quite a list still. Another goal I have is finding better sustainability for shooting sports, I may only be 7 years in but I have already had one surgery and could need another soon, and I don’t think that’s right. In school I studied how the body and mind function in sports, and there are a lot of things that can be carried over into shooting that haven’t yet. I think with that the overall goal is to create a better shooting sport, where peoples mind-body connections are strong and they can do it well without having poor effects on either aspect. Job wise I really enjoy coaching, so I hope to launch a platform for that after Paris and get a little bit of a head start there, but I am just going with the flow for now“.

Lastly, rank the top five priorities currently in your life?

That’s a hard one, I will base my answers off this current moment because I do believe they are ever changing and are different from a few months ago as well as they could be totally different in a few months. Right now, my top priority is preparing for Paris, doing everything I can in the senses of equipment, training, bodily health, and psychologically to ensure it goes well for me. Secondly would have to be my relationship with my boyfriend, I am in a very good relationship and I prioritize its longevity as well as preparation for the future. It may be surprising that this is so high but since Jirka has had such an immensely positive affect on my life, my relationship with him deserves to be up there. Third would be my mental health and fourth is my physical health. These are both very important and something that I have been working on and will continue working on for my whole life. Right now, I have a nutritionist, a strength and conditioning coach, and I had some doctors’ visits before leaving the US, so I can really fine tune what I need moving forward. I am working with Matt to find the mentality I want and even though it does fluctuate, I have been the most psychologically healthy recently than ever. I suppose my last priority that is still a priority right now is planning ahead, which was sparked by the realization that I am no longer in University. Even as minutely as it may be in this moment, doing things like setting up savings accounts and mapping out where I want to be and what I want to be doing in a few years, is giving me some peace of mind“.

Thank you for your visit, Mary. We look forward to continuing our partnership and supporting you in preparation for upcoming events, leading to your journey towards the Olympic Games in Paris, 2024.

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