By Vera Koo, Women’s Outdoor News, Published December 16, 2015
Vera Koo describes why she is looking at the end of her shooting career, and reflects on her decision.
Some of my shooting friends like to remind me that I have been two years away from retirement for the last 20 years.
It is true that for a long time, when someone asks me how much longer I think I will compete, I respond, “Two years.” However, recently, that two-year timeline is ringing more true.
I must face reality. I will turn 70 in December 2016.
Aging is something no one can escape. Although the fire in my heart is still burning strong, my body is not following.
I noticed about 18 months ago that my arms are shrinking. I am losing muscle mass. It is most noticeable in my forearms, but my upper arms also are shrinking. It is not for lack of trying. I still am committed to a healthy diet and exercise, although I have to be careful to not overdo it.
My memory is not as sharp as it used to be, nor is my eyesight. I have to be smart about my practice time, because my body will not allow me to practice as many hours as in the past. I used to be able to shoot a thousand rounds a day, seven days straight. I would combat the swelling in my hand by soaking it in ice at night. Nowadays, I cut off practice at 850 rounds. I take more days off to rest.
All these signs tell me that my retirement from this sport is approaching. Maybe I will exit after the 2016 World Championships. Maybe I will get a few more years after that.
Our bodies are vehicles we use to travel through life, and my body has a lot of miles on it. Yet, even as I face the reality of retirement approaching, I do not have any sadness in my heart. When I exit this sport, it will be with no regrets. I know I have done all I can to compete at my highest possible level. I have relentlessly pushed myself throughout my career, both physically and mentally.
Although I am not fearful of the day retirement comes, I also am not trying to speed up its arrival. I love this game. I never will be able to find something as exciting as these competitions. This sport requires me to work so hard and push myself at every turn. I enjoy the process.