Over spring break, I was able to travel out to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the 2018 Pistol National Junior Olympics. It was definitely one of my most memorable experiences so far; just the opportunity to compete on a national level and meet other athletes from across the U.S made it even greater.

I competed in two events, Men’s 10m Air Pistol and Men’s 25m Sport Pistol. Placing second in the state for State Junior Olympic qualifiers was able to earn me an invitation for both events. For my first Junior Olympics, I came in 50th for Air Pistol and 4th for Sport Pistol. I had set a new personal record for a national match. Performance wise, I did the best I could at the very moment and I was able to stick to what I know and perform.

The actual intensity and seriousness of my matches didn’t really hit until halfway through my trip. Before every match, I would say to myself that it would be just like another training session back home, and that really helped me perform as well as I did. One of the biggest downsides of my trip was the competitors next to me. I had to go through one of my matches while listening to another shooter sing. Another downside was the altitude. Colorado Springs is over a mile above sea level compared to Boston where it's only a couple of feet so it got hard to breathe at some points.

Matnog in the 10m Air Pistol event. Photo submitted by Gabriel Matnog

I did not feel nervous at all, it was my 6th time competing there so I guess I got used to the environment. I was less worried about competing at a national level and more worried about doing the best I could. Based on my results I think I did pretty good. I had a few mechanical errors here and there but nothing too major where it would completely change the course of my match.

Overall, my first Junior Olympic competition was an exciting and interesting experience for me, with lots of memories and fun times, and now, I’m preparing to fly out to Fort Benning, Georgia for nationals, from June 10-17.

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