By Michael Molinaro, U.S. Army Marksmanship UnitAugust 4, 2012
LONDON (Army News Service, Aug. 4, 2012) -- As Jamie Gray was conquering her past demons in women's three-position rifle Aug. 4, at the Royal Artillery Barracks here, her husband, Staff Sgt. Hank Gray, was glued to the couple's 17-inch computer monitor, watching a live stream of the event.
The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Soldier wasn't there in person, but as the match got closer and closer to the end, the tension inside their Phenix City, Ala., home was as thick as it was in southeast London. Jamie had dominated the event and had built a solid lead, but had been there before in Beijing only to leave empty-handed.
"Coming down to the end, you always get a little weary and then the ninth shot happened," Hank said, referring to an 8.9 she put up, the worst shot she took all day. "Over the years I have seen some crazy stuff happen over the last shot, so I was just hoping that she could put another one in."
Determined to finish the job this time around, Jamie said that she trained and practiced for that final shot more than anything else she had done the past four years. Every world cup, every training session, she would visualize it being the last shot in the Olympics with a medal on the line.
That hard work paid off when Jamie plugged a 10.8, putting an exclamation point on her dominating performance and securing the gold medal.
"I've dreaded that last shot for the last four years," Jamie said. "But I took a good shot and that was the big thing. I knew it was a good one. It looked good and felt good."
Jamie winning gold wasn't as much a surprise to her husband as it was a validation of her commitment to excellence and will to succeed. He said with the way she prepares for a match and her laser-like focus leading up to the games, a medal was well with her grasp.
"She has such a singular drive and focus when it comes to her training and shooting," Hank said. "Just between the work that she puts in and the way that she goes about her process, about preparing for an event, is awe-inspiring. She really considers everything -- she's trained for all situations."
Being a member of the USAMU family allows Jamie to train with some of the best marksmen in the world. When Hank and Jamie started dating in 2004 after meeting at a Sydney World Cup event, she was training in Colorado Springs, Colo. When things got serious and she eventually moved to the Fort Benning, Ga., area with Hank, it wasn't a coincidence that her game improved as well.
"It's awesome training at the (USAMU)," said Jamie. "You train with the best guys in the country, even the world. We have so many guys who are highly ranked at the unit that I can't ask for a better training facility. I am training in the wind all of the time -- I don't get that in Colorado."
"We push each other all of the time. They push me and I definitely push them."
One of the first things the couple decided once Jamie secured a spot in the Olympics was Hank would not travel to London to cheer her on from the stands. Hank said her shooting was off the charts and he didn't want to provide any distraction for her while she was in London. Amid the hoopla of winning the gold medal, there was one more thing Jamie had to do before walking out to receive it.
"She called me real quick in between the match and the ceremony," Hank said. "It was short, but I told her how proud I was of her. It was an awesome moment."
Hank said every time he hears the national anthem played during the Olympics, his eyes are liable to well up. However this time, while watching his wife on the podium as the anthem played and Old Glory was raised, tears rolled down Hank's face as he stood inside their home. His wife's will to win finally paid off.
"I suppose I can pick her up from the airport, instead of have her travel (on the shuttle)," Hank said with a laugh. "I am so proud of her. She said after Beijing that her best needed to be better. Today it was."