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KCUR follows the Kansas City athletes competing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

In Tokyo Olympics, Kansas City Trapshooter Wants To Prove Success Isn't A 'Fluke'

Thaddius Bedford
Derrick Mein went to Tokyo with high aspirations but came up short in the individual men's competition. He now has another opportunity to shine in mixed pair bunker trapshooting.

Trapshooter Derrick Mein has one more shot at an Olympic medal in Tokyo when he teams up with Kayle Browning, who won a silver medal in the women's competition. Then he has his sights set on Paris in 2024.

It’s a fact that bunker trapshooting in the Olympics doesn’t make good TV, which saddens the sport’s biggest fans.

But that won’t stop loyal followers of Paola’s Derrick Mein from watching a live stream or whatever video feed they can catch tonight when he takes his last crack at winning an Olympic medal in mixed pairs.

Mein didn’t make it to the finals of the individual shooting, but his partner tonight is Kayle Browning who won a silver medal this week in women’s trap.

“You’re shooting a blur,” said Gary Fitzjarrel, one of Derrick Mein’s best friends, when explaining why the sport doesn’t translate well to casual TV sports fans. “You could see a baseball, you could see a golf ball, you could see a basketball. But in shooting you can’t see the clay target, so it really sucks to watch it.”

The obvious preference is to watch it in person, but because of COVID-19 very few, if any, are in attendance for Olympic competition in and around Tokyo.

“Even though you’re not seeing the targets break (on TV), you’re watching the score and interested in seeing what your friend’s doing,” said Fitzjarrel.

Since Mein’s family chose to stay in Paola for organized watch parties in town this week, Fitzjarrel took up Mein’s offer to catch the TV coverage from the NBC Sports watch party in Orlando, Florida. Frustrated with the lack of access to good TV coverage from his home in White Hall, Illinois—about 60 miles southwest of Springfield—Fitzjarrel traveled to Florida this week with his 12-year old son.

Just to see his friend compete on the world stage.

“Where Derrick’s got the ability is he shoots a lot of different disciplines at a higher level, and that’s something we don’t see very often,” said Fitzjarrel.

Mein crossed disciplines from sporting clays, where he has enjoyed most of his success on the world level, to bunker trap shooting in the Olympics. In men’s bunker trap competition this week, Mein placed 24th out of 29 competitors. The top six advanced to the final.

But no matter the outcome, Mein said before the Tokyo Olympics that he’s already thinking about the Paris Olympics in 2024.

“The next goal on the Olympic stage is trying to repeat and prove that this wasn’t a fluke,” he said.

It might not make great TV ratings, but it’s a great thrill to those who follow Mein closely.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
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