Tokyo special for sport shooter Lynda Kiejko, 57 years after her dad competed there

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CALGARY — Lynda Kiejko was searching for something several months ago. She can't remember what it was, but her hunt unearthed something else more precious and unexpected.

Discovering a Tokyo 1964 keychain medallion belonging to her late father William Hare, who represented Canada in sport shooting at those Summer Olympics, was a moment soaked in serendipity.

"I looked at it and went 'You've got to be kidding me. This is amazing I found this,'" Kiejko said. "I pulled it out and kept it safe ever since.

"It was a reminder that this is pretty amazing that I get to go and compete in the same place my dad did."

The 40-year-old Kiejko (pronounced KAY-ko) from Calgary is Canada's lone sport shooter in Tokyo.

She'll compete in the women's 10-metre air pistol on Sunday and the 25-metre pistol starting July 29 at Asaka Shooting Range, where her father represented Canada 57 years ago.

The "pistol-packing preacher" — Kiejko credits an Ontario newspaper for that alliteration, based on her father's day job — also shot pistol in the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games.

Kiejko was 11 and her sister Dorothy was 13 when Hare asked his daughters to help him build a shooting range in the basement of their home outside Edmonton.

"He said, 'Now that we've spent all this time, this is what we've got. Would you like to try?'" Kiejko recalled. "That's really where we started."

Dorothy Ludwig finished 34th in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London followed by Lynda donning the Maple Leaf four years later in Rio de Janeiro, where she was 38th in both the 10-metre and 25-metre.

Kiejko's victory in the 2018 Shooting Championship of the Americas in Guadalajara, Mexico, assured Canada a Tokyo berth in the women's 10-metre pistol.

She then claimed that spot in a two-stage trial in January 2020 — just four months after son Logan was born.

Hare coached Lynda once internationally. When her bronze medal in the 2003 Pan American Games was one podium step short of going to the Olympics in Athens the following year, he extracted the sting out of the moment.

"I had a bronze medal and I needed a silver, at which point he looked at me and said, 'You know, I never got a Pan American medal, ever,'" Kiejko recalled.

"We were sharing a moment where he was so insanely proud of me, and at the same time living a little vicariously because I achieved something he never achieved. It was perspective for me."

Hare died in 2005 at age 69.

Tokyo's test event at the Asaka range was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so Kiejko's debut there will be tinged with memories of her father.

"My dad's always with me. There's never a day when there's not his voice in the back of my head and I don't feel he's with me," she said.

"Getting to compete and be in the same place he did is going to impress on me at some point. Where and when, I don't know yet."

She's one of 11 Canadian athletes in Tokyo who are children of former Olympians.

Kiejko and husband Kevin have three children under the age of six. She's a civil engineer who works part time for an electricity company.

Child care and trying to train at the Calgary Rifle and Pistol Club when she could get in during the pandemic forced Kiejko out of her comfort zone.

"Everybody's got a very different story of chaos over the last year," she said. "I was joking with my sports psychologist, saying I've become very adaptable. Normally my training plan is set in stone.

"In a family with three kids, all of a sudden the stars align and I can train now. I wasn't planning on it, but I could, so I'm going to do that right now, and picking up and going. Having that adaptability is not something that I had before.

"I've got the greatest husband in the whole wide world, and I'm not sharing him. He's fantastic. It's pretty amazing to have a partner like that who has supported me in the crazy that has definitely been this last year."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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