LONDON – U.S. shooter Sarah Scherer, 21, advanced to the finals of the women's 10-meter air rifle competition July 28 at the Royal Artillery Barracks in London before settling for a seventh-place finish overall.
“I'm very happy with my performance,” Scherer said after the competition. “It was one of those things where I had some struggles, but I gave it my all. I overcame them. I really put everything that I had out there.”
China's Yi Siling took gold in the event. Scherer's U.S. teammate Jamie Lynn Gray finished fifth.
The competition started with 57 shooters, with the top eight advancing to the finals. Scherer's score of 397 in the qualifying round (out of a possible 400 points) was good enough for a fifth-place tie with four other shooters. The five who tied advanced to a shoot-off, with the top four moving on to the finals.
Scherer, who was an alternate in the 2008 Olympics, vowed at that point that she would dedicate herself to training and making the 2012 team.
“Every single day you put in your full effort, and that's all you can do,” she said. “The rest is up to the Lord. I'm here, and I've done well. I think I prepared well, and I'm happy to be here.”
Photo by USA Shooting
Olympian Sarah Scherer said her performance in the athletic world doesn’t define who she is; instead, her definition is from Christ.
Her road to London was unexpectedly complicated when her brother Stephen, who was a member of the U.S. men's shooting team in 2008, committed suicide in 2010. “The number one way I got through that,” she said, “is because I have a very strong faith in the Lord….”
“I know that my brother was here four years ago, and I'm following his footsteps and kind of carrying on with the work he accomplished,” she continued. “What he accomplished encourages me every day.”
Scherer, a junior at Texas Christian University (TCU), attends Southcliff Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. She said her church family has provided significant support for her throughout her Olympic preparation and experience.
“The college ministry I'm a part of, they're all rooting for me and everything,” Scherer said. “So many in the congregation are praying for me, and that's an amazing peace and comfort to have.”
It was during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where Scherer saw her brother reap the fruits of countless hours of training and practice.
Shooting had been a bonding activity for the Scherer siblings for eight years at that point. When Stephen picked up the sport, his little 9-year-old sister Sarah wanted to join him. They were practically inseparable, both inside and outside of the shooting range. Such was life for the Scherers as they grew up in a single-parent home, with their mother Sue doing the best she could to provide for her family.
Scherer, like other shooters, wears a heavy leather outfit to support her physically as she aims and fires at 40 quarter-sized targets from 10 meters away.
But because of her brother’s self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2010, Scherer did not have her brother cheering from the sidelines.
After Stephen’s suicide, Sarah contemplated giving up shooting entirely. There were too many haunting reminders.
But through God’s grace and the love and support of family and friends, Sarah has found the strength to continue her own shooting career. She does it with a heart full of hope and confidence that she and her brother will one day be reunited.
“Knowing that my brother had a faith in Christ and lived for Him, that’s the biggest thing for me,” Scherer said. “Because of that decision and that choice my brother made, and that trust that I have, I’m 100 percent sure of where my brother is. I know that he’s in a much better place, and that I’ll see him again in heaven. That’s the number one comfort that I’ve really experienced coming from my brother’s faith.”
In the months that followed Stephen’s death, Sarah found encouragement from scripture. Her church family surrounded her and her mother with prayers. Sarah’s collegiate small group was especially helpful as she grieved her brother’s loss and wrestled with the difficult questions. Why, God?
“Sarah’s small group was kind of an anchor that continually brought her back to what she knew to be true from God’s Word, even when she was at her lowest points,” said Spencer Plumlee, one of Southcliff’s pastors who was the college minister at the time.
Friends emailed or texted her with encouragement, often at just the time Sarah needed it the most. Her small group leader talked with her and listened to Sarah’s questions. Through all these things, Sarah saw the hand of God upholding her. She heard the voice of God telling her, “I’m here for you. Yes, this is a tough time, but I have a plan, and I’m in control.”
“Leaning on Christ through this time has been the only way that I’ve gotten through it,” she said.
The times she felt like quitting the shooting team at TCU, she got confirmation from God that He still had work for her to do among that community.
So she kept at it, and her diligence paid off. As she prepares to compete in London, Scherer knows the Olympics may resurrect painful memories of her brother. This was their dream, not just hers, and now he’s no longer there to share it with her.
But she’s also fully aware of the work God has done in her life, bringing her through trials and tragedy and preparing her for the biggest athletic event of her life. Whatever the outcome, Scherer continues to cling to her Lord.
“My performance in the athletic world doesn’t define who I am,” she said. “My definition is from Christ.”