Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 16

FEATURE // JAMIE RETIREMENT

USA Shooting

Olympic Gold
Medalist Jamie
(Byerle) Gray.

Injury Forces Olympic
Gold Medalist Jamie
(Beyerle) Gray to Retire

T

BY KEVIN NEUENDORF

here comes a time in every elite
athlete's life where they eventually succumb to the pain they
place upon their body to perform
the sport they love. That day came
in April, 2014, for reigning Olympic gold medalist
Jamie (Beyerle) Gray, Lebanon, PA, as she
reluctantly retired from her competitive rifle
career. No doubt the gold medal she earned
in London helped make the decision a little bit
easier. But more than that, Gray wasn't willing to
forego her long-term health for the opportunity
to continue shooting.

16 SSUSA JUNE 2014

Since 2010, Gray has tolerated lower back pain
that was unbearable at times and something
that worsened each time she put in the training
necessary to compete. "It has taken a toll on my
body, mind and life." Gray acknowledged. "At
the Olympics, I had three injections in my back
after the air rifle match, which allowed me to
compete in smallbore."
USA Shooting Team Physiologist Cathy Arnot
described her condition like this: "She essentially
has the wear-and-tear on her spine that could
be expected of a 70-year-old woman." Arnot
describes the injury as a degeneration of the
facet joints located on both sides of the vertebrae. An MRI taken during the Olympic Games
showed tearing and degeneration of the cartilage
along several facet joints and a bulging disc.
Just prior to her gold-medal performance in
London, she received a cortisone injection without any anesthesia, at Gray's request, to relieve
the pain.
Gray took a year off after London in hopes that
the rest would rectify the problem. But when she
picked up the gun again last October, the pain
returned. The orthopedists and neurologists
that evaluated her came to the consensus that
if she continued to compete, the degeneration
would worsen, leading to daily pain and early
arthritis of the spine. According to Arnot, her only
alternative was a surgical fusion of her spine, but
with no guarantee she'd be able to realistically
compete afterwards.
"Jamie is one of the toughest competitors
I have known in 23 years," said U.S. Olympic
Committee Sport Psychologist Sean McCann.
"Her toughness will be useful now as well. Ending an Olympic career early due to injury is one
of the most difficult challenges an elite athlete
faces, and it is especially hard if you know you
are one of the best in the world. Although Jamie
accomplished so much in her career, she had
much more left in the tank, and it is very tough to
leave a competitive life when you love competition as much as Jamie. All retiring Olympic athletes miss the focus, intensity and single-mindedpurpose of the athlete's life. The challenge for



Shooting Sports USA - June 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA - June 2014

Contents
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - Cover1
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - Cover2
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 3
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 4
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 5
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - Contents
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 7
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 8
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 9
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 10
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 11
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 12
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 13
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 14
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 15
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 16
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 17
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 18
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 19
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 20
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 21
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 22
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 23
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 24
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 25
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 26
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 27
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 28
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 29
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 30
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 31
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 32
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 33
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 34
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 35
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 36
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 37
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 38
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 39
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - Cover4
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