From small town kid to Olympic Athlete

How Derrick Mein's passion and family led him to the Olympics

In the 2008 Olympic trials, Derrick Mein missed out on qualifying by one target.

“It’s always kind of been in the back of my mind.”

It’s always been in the back of his mind to pursue making the United States’ team again, but the timing was never right until eight months ago, when he and his wife, Diana, decided it was time for him to go back after it.

Last week, after months of perfecting his sport, it all paid off.

“After hitting the target that guaranteed me a spot on the Olympic team, I had to walk from the fifth post all the way around to the first,” recalls Mein. “Of course I could see (Diana) and I could see the tears coming down her eyes cause I knew how much she had put in to me to help me achieve this dream.”

Photo courtesy of Derrick Mein

Growing up on a farm in Walnut, Kansas, Derrick spent a lot of time fishing, deer hunting, and helping his dad – who has also put a lot into helping Derrick succeed. After all, he’s the one who first showed him how to shoot.

Since then, Derrick Mein hasn’t just become good. He’s become one of the best in the world. Through the years, his father says he and his son have been each other’s best competition.

“We’ve bumped heads a lot. We’ve shot off for state titles, zone titles,” says Rick Mein. “Bad news is I’ve never beat him in a shoot off, except once for a bronze medal in the world championship in Italy.”

Derrick corrects him almost immediately. “He’s beat me several times in the side game called Make or Break. It’s kind of like snicker pool, he’s beat me quite a bit in that.”

Derick says one of his favorite memories from over the years was when he won the sub-Junior national title. Hitting ninety-nine out of one hundred targets, he says one of his favorite memories was heading back to school and sharing the news with his classmates.

Now Derrick sees that it’s so much more than an individual sport.

On the course with Derrick Mein

“My family has definitely sacrificed a lot of time with me to allow me to pursue this dream. I’ve got my wife, my daughter, my mom and dad – it’s so cool to have them there.”

As Derrick and his family prepare for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, he knows that the support system surrounding him and his craft aren’t something to take for granted.

“I feel very fortunate to have what I have.”