Elite Amateur Sport

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Lynda Kiejko following in father’s Olympic pistol-shooting footsteps to Tokyo

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Linda Kiejko. Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee

By Martin Cleary

OLYMPIC BOUND: Canada will send only one shooting athlete to the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. That honour belongs to Winchester, ON.-born Lynda Kiejko, who did it all and more to hit that target.

Kiejko, 40, qualified for her second straight national Olympic team by winning the 2018 Continental Championships women’s 10-metre Air Pistol (giving Canada a berth in the Games) and beating four other athletes at the 2020 team trials.

That was hard enough for the Calgary resident, but she won the Olympic trials four months after delivering her third child. But she’s used to it. After her 2016 Rio Olympics, she had her second child before the 2018 Continental meet.

While Kiejko will be the sole Canadian shooter (10-metre Air Pistol and 25-metre Pistol) at the Asaka Shooting Range, she knows she won’t be alone training and competing each day. The presence of her deceased father will be with her.

Rev. Bill Hare travelled to the same shooting range to compete in men’s pistol shooting during the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo. He also went on to compete at the 1968 and 1972 Games as well.

“While I was searching for something, I came across a small keychain medallion that my dad brought back from the Tokyo Olympics,” Kiejko wrote in an email interview. “I have put it on my keychain to take with me, not for luck, but as a reminder of how special it is that I get to compete 57 years after he did.”

Hare, a United Church of Canada minister who served in Admaston Township, which is part of Renfrew Country, before moving his family to Alberta, introduced shooting to his daughters Lynda and Dorothy (now Ludwig).

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He gave Lynda and Dorothy the necessary tools to understand and enjoy pistol shooting and they made the most of it. Dorothy qualified for the 2012 London Olympic team for Canada and Lynda participated in the 2016 Rio Games with Tokyo on the horizon.

Nicknamed the Pistol Packing Preacher, Hare had a shooting range in the basement of the family house, which helped him get to three Olympics, Commonwealth and Pan Am Games and world championships. His best Olympic result was 15th at the 1968 Mexico City Games in 50-metre Free Pistol.

“I am very excited about competing in Tokyo. The Olympics always held a special place in his heart, and he really enjoyed Tokyo,” added Kiejko, who remembers her dad telling many stories of his travels, but can’t recall the Tokyo ones.

It has been five years since her last Olympics, but Kiejko has used her time well. She delivered her second and third children and completed a Certificate in Business at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.

She did all of that while training for and competing in national and international pistol shooting competitions and maintaining her job as a civil engineer.

Kiejko, who finished in 38th place in the 10-metre Air Pistol and 25-metre Pistol competitions at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will travel with national head coach Lisa Borgerson. But she is accustomed to being on a small team.

“It will be very similar to many international competitions, where I travelled just with my coach,” Kiejko wrote. “I was hoping to have teammates in Tokyo, however, it did not work out that way.

“I will not be putting any additional pressure on me as the sole shooting athlete. I will do what I always do, the best I can on the day of competition.”

Kiejko has had many highlight moments – 2015 Pan Am Games gold in both her pistol events, a career-high World Cup result of sixth in 10-metre Air Pistol in 2015 and winning the 2014 national Air Pistol title a month after giving birth.

“For me to feel successful (in Tokyo), I will be present in the moment of each shot, without judgment, and with perfect process to the shot execution. I cannot control how other people perform, only my own performance,” she added.

“This is a strange year and it’s hard to say how the world’s best will shine on the day of competition at the Olympics.”

The 16-month COVID-19 pandemic forced Kiejko to be “more flexible and adaptable,” but there was no perfect plan to confront it as “any plan was more of an idea that would change before it actually became a reality.”

With the 2020 Summer Olympics postponed for one year and competitions cancelled, there was no need for travelling. That meant Kiejko could spend more time with her young family.

“I have missed shoulder-to-shoulder competition internationally this year. I feel like it would have aided in my preparations. I have made the most of it, found time to test my processes and be able to prepare for quality training,” she continued.

“There are a lot of things that would have been easier without the pandemic. I have just chosen to look at the benefits and search for solutions for the challenges that have arisen rather than dwell on a problem.”

Name: Lynda Kiejko
Sport: Shooting
Age: 40
Hometown: Winchester
Residence: Calgary
Olympic competition schedule:
July 25 (10-metre Air Pistol)
July 29 (25-metre Pistol)

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.

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