Kansas native ready to take on world’s best in the Olympics

PAOLA, Kan. — The road to the 2024 Olympic Games is well underway for athletes, including Derrick Mein from Paola, Kansas.

His sights are set on gold this year, but he’s thinking about what’s immediately ahead of him, the first round of shooting in Paris.

“That’s the first focus is get myself in the final and anything can happen in the final, everybody starts at zero,” he said. “Anything can happen.”

This won’t be Mein’s first Olympic Games. He competed in the 2021 games in Tokyo, where the pressure may have gotten to him a little bit.

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“You can’t really explain it,” he said.

He finished 26th in the standings but has been collecting quite a bit of hardware since then.

“I’ve got three consecutive national championships,” he said as he pointed over his medal collection that sat on his dining room table in Paola. “So, it’s been a while since anyone’s done that.”

He points at a specific award.

“That’s my gold medal from the 2022 world championships, I’m the first American since 1966 to bring that home,” he said.

He’s been shooting competitively since he was a child but has been pursuing professional shooting in the past 10 years. He credits his wife, Diana, for making that dream a reality.

“She’s the one who pushed me to try this professionally and she’s the one who makes it all possible,” he said.

For Diana, watching Derrick compete is nerve wracking.

“I constantly have to stand and pace and as a lot of women will know, the mom weave where you can’t quite sit still,” she said. “The years that he’s put into it and the sacrifice that he’s made the balance we’ve had to make in our family to make it work, it’s all worth it in the end.”

“Our team has really come on strong in the last 4 years, so it’s really become a battle just to make the team,” he said about qualifying for this year’s games.

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He’s departing for several international tournaments this weekend to prepare for the Olympics.

“You got to be competing going into the Olympic games if you want to be competitive, you can’t just show up cold and expect to do well,” he said.

Despite travelling the world and competing on six of the seven continents, Derrick says that Kansas is still his favorite place in the world.

“There’s no place like home. We’ve got the best people in the planet living in this area. The amount of support I get from down home is unbelievable,” he said. “People reaching out to me all the time, hey we’re so proud of you, really cheering you on. It’s really cool to know that you have the support of the community you live in.”

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