BELGRADE — Belgrade’s Ali Weisz began shooting when she was 9 years old, and now she’s 26 and headed for the Olympics in Tokyo. It’s something she could have only dreamed of as a child.
“Everyone’s human, you kind of get caught up in what you’re doing on a daily basis and you forget to take a second and look back and say, ‘wow this is how far I’ve come,’” said Weisz, who is in the United States Army Marksmanship Unit. “Now I’m sitting here at 26 accomplishing that dream.”
With COVID-19 protocols, the Olympic experience won’t be quite the same as usual, but Weisz is excited to be on the same stage with athletes such as gymnast Simone Biles, whom she is hoping to run into.
“A part of me is like man, we're missing out on the actual true Olympic experience, but I don’t think anything can take away from being there and being among all these incredible athletes from all over the world that have made it to this level,” said Weisz. “I think that’s what I’m most excited for that and really feeling that. It’s so crazy to think that I am one of them and among them."
Weisz heads to Tokyo in a few weeks, but once the games begin she won’t have much time before she’s actually competing. She will be the first event after the opening ceremony. Back in 2019, Weisz competed near the end of the Pan-American games, which added extra pressure she had never experienced before. She’s thankful for that experience and she has a few other things that help keep her calm when the lights shine brightest.
“I’m big into breathing and meditation and mindfulness,” she said. “I think that’s one thing that kind of brings me back and centers myself a little bit. That’s something I’ll typically do especially before matches when I’m really feeling that anxiety and the pressure and the nerves. I also have gotten to a point in my career where I know that feeling those are important because it means you actually care about it and you want to do well. It’s nothing to be fearful of. You accept them as they are.”
The sharpshooter from Belgrade is ready for the big stage and knows she has put her best foot forward in preparing for the games.
“You’re going to have thoughts race through your mind all the time,” said Weisz. “Whether it's doubt or fear, or even confidence -- whatever it is that comes through your mind you have the choice to decide if you want to let that thought control your actions or you just want to recognize it as just a thought. You have a thought of doubt -- you can sit there and think about how doubtful you are of your success, or you can be like no, alright I’ve done all this training, I’m ready.”
However, she’s not going to accept being just a competitor at the games. She wants to win.
“As long as I am doing everything that I should be doing on my end of things, there’s not much more can ask for,” Weisz said.”I’m also an athlete and I’m a competitor, so I don’t want to just go there and be like, I’m just happy to be here. The goal is to make the final, get on the podium and really win at the end of the day.”
As for how she would feel if she won:
“I’m speechless thinking about it right now, so I’m sure in that situation I couldn’t even put into words -- I have no idea what it could possibly feel like,” said Weisz.