Mackenzie Brown, 21, was the only woman archer from the U.S. who made it to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. She wasn’t be completely alone though, since there are three men competing for the U.S. in archery. Even if the Flint, Texas native only won a bronze, she would have been the first U.S. woman to medal in the individual event since Luann Ryon won Gold in 1976. Unfortunately, Brown only made it to the Round of 32, where she lost to San Yu Htwe of Myanmar.
Here’s a look at Brown’s career.
1. Brown Earned the Nickname ‘Girl on Fire’ Last Year at a Competition in Poland
Brown earned the nickname “Girl on Fire” after the Alicia Keys song played at a world competition in Poland last year when she was introduced. She also loves The hunger Games, so she really appreciates the nickname.
“The DJ played the song by Alicia Keys ‘Girl on Fire,’ so I got that nickname and it stuck,” Brown told Team USA. “I actually like it quite a bit. I was a fan of The Hunger Games because I read the books. It’s cool for people to see my name as the girl on fire and also get an interest in archery, even if it is from ‘The Hunger Games.’ Any interest in archery is good for our sport.”
Brown has earned her nickname. She’s ranked fourth in the world and easily succeeded in the Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, Team USA did not qualify for the women’s team event in archery, so Brown will only have a chance to medal in the individual event.
“It’s an exciting culmination of emotions – making the team means more to me than I can put into words,” Brown told Team USA. “It makes all the sacrifices my family and I have made to get here worth it, and I am so honored to represent the U.S. in Rio.”
2. Brown First Hoped to Make the Olympics as a Swimmer
Brown has always loved competitions and was dedicated to making the Olympics. However, she first hoped to make it as a swimmer.
“I already had that (Olympic) goal with swimming — so I just kind of transferred it over to archery,” she told Easton Foundations last year. “I was always a competitor at whatever I chose to do,” she added.
According to the Associated Press, Brown specialized in the backstroke as a swimmer. When she picked up archery in middle school, she decided that’s what she wanted to do.
3. Brown Tried out for the 2012 London Team When She Was Just 16
When Brown was 16, she competed for a spot on the Team USA Roster for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She finished in the Top 16. That year, she was also on the team that won silver at the Pan American Championships.
Brown also has gold medals from the 2013 Costa Rica Cup and the 2014 AAE Arizona World Cup Ranking Event. Earlier this year, she picked up a silver medal at the 2016 Indoor Archery World Cup Final. She also won bronze at the 2015 Aquece Rio Test Event at the same venue where the Olympics archery events are held.
“I gained a lot of perspective during my first Olympic Trials, and I think that helped quite a bit this go-around,” Brown told Team USA. “I had a better understanding of what it takes to be one of the best, and what I needed to do to train harder and smarter.”
4. She Loves Training While Listening to Country Music
In her Associated Press interview, Brown explained that listening to music helps her focus while training. She loves listening to Garth Brooks and George Straight, but sometimes mixes it up with Meghan Trainor.
“Being able to push that (noise) away and focus on what I need to focus on, it becomes a benefit,” Brown said. “I’m just really looking forward to how things turn out.”
One of her other hobbies is knitting.
5. Brown’s Parents Were Watching Her in the Stands
Brown’s parents, Chuck and Stacey Brown, were in Rio to watch their daughter try to win gold. Although Brown moved to California to train, her parents still live in Texas and needed to raise funds so they could go to Brazil.
“We are seeing our daughter achieve her biggest goal in life so far,” Stacey KTLV in July.
“Every shot is nerve racking for us,” Chuck added.
Brown explained to KTLV that her parents have supported her from the moment she chose archery as her sport. “They have always been behind me from the very get go when they know this is what I wanted to do,” she said.