The Paris Games Could Be A ‘Star-Spangled’ Celebration For Pistol Shooter Lexi Lagan
by Bob Reinert
Alexis “Lexi” Lagan once received a presidential commendation for singing the national anthem 150 times at public gatherings in a single year. If all goes according to plan, Lagan could hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” played in her honor after she ascends the podium at Olympic Games Paris 2024 this summer.
Lagan secured her second Olympic berth — and third trip to the Games — based on her performance in women’s air pistol at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in early January. The 31-year-old from Boulder City, Nevada, was one of five U.S. shooters to qualify from that competition held in Anniston, Alabama.
“I’m excited,” Lagan said. “I expected myself to do well. My scores weren’t where I wanted them to be (at the Olympic trials). However, it was enough to get me on the team, in the first-place position.”
The multi-faceted Lagan maintains a deep interest in music and dance, and she plans to eventually go on to law school. For now, though, her focus is on the sport that she’s really only been pursuing at a high level for about nine years now.
Though she grew up going to the range with her dad, it was really while in college at the University of Utah that her shooting career blossomed. In fact, Lagan did so well so quickly that she was named an alternate for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.
Looking back, Lagan doesn’t think she was quite ready for her Olympic debut yet, with her scores at the time putting her more in the category of “tourist” than true contender. She was still able to experience the Games, however; Lagan went to the Olympic Games Rio 2016 as a member of the USA Shooting social media team that covered the event.
“I got a little bit of a peak behind the curtain of what that experience might be like,” Lagan said.
Five years later, she experienced the real thing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Though this time she felt she was ready for the Olympics, she quickly learned an important lesson about the Games.
“Be ready to flex with whatever may come your way,” she said. “Don’t let the bumps in the road take away from the overall experience.”
That’s because Lagan had to shake off two bouts of COVID-19 to compete in Tokyo. She ended up getting there, with her highest finish being 16th in the 10-meter air pistol mixed team event. She also took 18th in the 25-meter pistol and 38th in the 10-meter air pistol.
“I still really enjoyed myself,” she said. “My experience was still incredible.”
This time, fingers crossed, Lagan feels she’s positioned to improve upon that.
“I feel like I’ll be able to go into my first couple matches with a little bit more confidence than I did the last time,” she said. “I’m very competitive. I’m right there. I’m knocking on the door.”
Look no further than the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. She won the silver medal there in women’s air pistol, securing a U.S. Olympic quota for Paris, and took a bronze medal in women’s sport pistol.
“I am seeing results from the hard work I’m investing in the sport,” Lagan said.
Despite her late start in international shooting, Lagan quickly showed she belonged among the world’s best. At Utah, she earned national titles and All-America honors while working on her bachelor’s degree in pre-law physics. Since graduating in 2017, she’s competed internationally in world cups and the world championships, finishing as high as 12th in air pistol at last year’s world championships.
As she’s risen in the sport, Lagan hasn’t lost track of her other interests.
After Paris, she plans to pursue a law degree and possibly become a patent attorney.
Meanwhile, the well-rounded Lagan has musicians on one side of the family tree and dancers on the other. She did more than 16 years of ballet and dabbled in other forms of dance. She also played piano and other instruments and even did some conducting.
“I really enjoy music,” she said. “I think that it’s something that allows me to connect with some of my own emotions. It allows me to relax and just enjoy my surroundings in a different way.”
The ballet background gives her the ability to target specific muscle groups to maintain body control.
“So, ballet has helped my shooting,” she said.
As for those national anthem performances in the past?
“I take the national anthem very seriously,” Lagan said. “I’m very patriotic. My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July. I love being able to represent my country, not just on the Olympic stage.”