Mackenzie Brown's Olympic Archery Dreams Are Taking Her to Rio 2016
When Mackenzie Brown steps to the line in Rio de Janeiro this August, and nocks her first arrow at the 2016 Olympic Games, she will fulfill a dream she has worked for since she picked up a bow and arrow at 10 years of age.“I started in NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program), and then found myself in a JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) program with a recurve,” said Brown, 21, of Texas. “Ever since I decided to go with a recurve, I’ve had Olympic aspirations.”Brown emerged from the U.S. Olympic Trials in May as the top-ranked American woman in a super-competitive field that included five-time Olympian, Khatuna Lorig.Her top ranking was critical, because the U.S. only qualified to send one woman to the Olympics this year. A full team of women would have meant three archers would go to Rio.“I felt really sad that we’re not able to take a full team, because I know if we were able to win a team medal, it’s a lot more special if you can share it with a group of people,” Brown said.“But I also feel confident in my skills and the way that I’ve been shooting. So I believe it will be a good tournament.”(RELATED: Check out Mackenzie Brown's equipment list, here.)The men qualified a full team, and so Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminksi and Zach Garrett will be shooting in the same arena as Brown come August.It’s true Brown is young, and she will be a first-timer at the Olympics. But don’t doubt her abilities or her achievements.As stated, Brown emerged from the three events that comprise the Olympic Trials as Team USA’s top female archer. She’s currently ranked fourth in the world by World Archery, and is the organization’s top-ranked American woman. Her rankings match Brady Ellison's of Glendale, Ariz., who is World Archery's fourth-ranked male and the top-ranked American recurve archer.Last year, Brown was one of a select number of archers who traveled to Rio to test out the facilities at the site of this year’s Olympic archery competition. She claimed the bronze medal there.(In case you’ve forgotten or didn’t know it, Brown is the reigning, 2016, women’s recurve, Lancaster Archery Classic champion.)“I worked really hard to get here, and I’m working really hard to have a good showing at the Olympics,” Brown said.Living at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., for the past four years, Brown shoots six days a week. On four of those days, she shoots at least 300 arrows. The other two days, she shoots at least 150.Brown has complete faith in her archery game.“When we go into tournaments, you’re trusting that you’ve created a background for competing,” she said. “When you’re training, you’re building trust that you know you can rely on. Being able to trust that you’ve done what you needed to to get to this point is gratifying. You kind of say, ‘Ok, I have done enough, and I’m going to go win this tournament.’”What she’s been working overtime on is mentally preparing for the Olympic experience. She recognizes the Olympics is a bigger stage than other competitions.“I’ve talked to Brady; I’ve talked to Jacob Wukie, when he was here,” she said. “I’ve talked to Jake. I’ve been just preparing myself for what to expect, but I know there’s not really a way to explain everything that you’re going to go through. So it’s preparing myself for anything.”And while she’s been answering an array of media requests – she was in Seventeen magazine in May and is preparing to do some work with National Geographic and ESPN – she also has been lending her support to efforts to get her parents to Rio, so they can watch their daughter.Chuck and Stacey Brown desperately want to see Mackenzie compete in the world’s biggest sporting event. But getting to Rio, and then spending 10 days there - the archery competition spans seven days - is an expensive endeavor. Especially as inflation soars across a troubled Brazil these days.So there have been a couple of local fund-raising events near the Browns’ home, and there’s an online campaign to generate some funds as well.“Road to Rio! The Parents’ Journey” is a GoFundMe page set up to benefit Brown’s parents.“As you can imagine, our dream is to see our daughter fulfill her dream of competing on the largest stagein the world!” the Browns wrote on their page.The goal is $10,000. As of June 29, about $3,700 had been raised. Anyone can go to the page and contribute to the cause here.And come August, look for Brown and the other archers to take the field for competition in Rio from Aug. 6-12.