Clad in his lucky Royals hat, albeit with the logo taped over per competition rules, archer Zach Garrett from Wellington, Mo., on Monday qualified for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
After the final phase of USA Archery’s multi-tiered trials system was over in Newberry, Fla., Garrett, 21, stood second behind two-time Olympian Brady Ellison to become one of three U.S. men to qualify for the Summer Olympics.
“It’s fantastic!” his mother, Robin, said in a text message from Florida. “We’re thrilled for him!”
For his part, Garrett remained his typically understated self in a phone interview.
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“I’m happy that I got on the team, and I feel like I’ve earned it,” said Garrett, who since graduating from Wellington-Napoleon High three years ago has been a resident of the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. “I feel bad for the guys who didn’t make it, obviously; we’re all really close.”
Beyond his natural even-keeled way, there was another reason Garrett was subdued.
While he expects to feel initially overwhelmed when he gets to Rio, he added that his mind-set already has shifted to winning individual and team medals there.
With ample reason: For one thing, teammates Ellison and Jake Linde-Kaminski were two of the three U.S. archers who won team silver in the 2012 London Olympics.
“I won’t feel accomplished, I don’t think, until my teammates and I are on the podium,” Garrett said. “(Today) is only about halfway to the goal.”
Garrett, whose interest in archery began as a 4-year-old when his grandfather made him a stick bow, has been in California training for three years, but he still identifies first with the Kansas City-area.
Perhaps the best outward symbol of that is his insistence on wearing Royals gear, particularly the new hat that recently replaced the one he’d worn to tatters.
Since unaffiliated logos by rule are forbidden at the archery Olympic Trials, he said, he wore the hat with the logo covered up by tape on Monday.
“It was a little upsetting, but I made sure to take it off for the podium picture,” he said, laughing. “I told everyone I had to represent my main sponsor.”
And now he’ll get to represent the area in Rio.