Deena Wigger life and biography

Deena Wigger picture, image, poster

Deena Wigger biography

Date of birth : 1996-08-27
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Montana, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-06-17
Credited as : Athlete, ,

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Deena Wigger born August 27, 1966 is an American athlete/shooter.

Deena Wigger is one of the "comeback kids" of the 1996 Olympics. Wigger, whose shooting resume fairly ripples with gold, silver, and bronze medals earned at various national and international competitions, has had nothing but disappointments where the Olympics have been concerned. She finished ninth in Seoul in 1988 and didn't even qualify for the 1992 Olympic team. Today, having put her sport into perspective, she is a winner again, most recently at the 1995 Pan American Games.

Lones Wigger, a rifle gold medalist at the 1964 and 1972 Olympics, knew early on that his daughter had a golden eye. "The first time we put [Deena] on the sandbag--she laid the rifle on a sandbag to shoot--she took a long time getting set up," he told the Denver Post. "She wouldn't shoot the shot until everything was perfect." After Deena, then 12, squeezed off five shots, Lones took a look at the results. "The five-shot group looked like one hole," he said. "That was a pretty good indication that she was going to do well."

Coached by her father, Deena, who was born on August 27, 1966, established a high national ranking as a teenager and qualified for the 1988 Summer Games when she was 22. There she suffered her first major upset, finishing ninth.

"I was real nervous before I went to the '88 Games and I didn't know how to deal with it," Wigger said. "I shot safe. I didn't shoot to win. I was real disappointed and started thinking, 'Here my dad did it so many times and I was too scared to do it.' I started thinking it wasn't natural for me. I didn't shoot (after that) for quite a while."

Wigger, who won a gold medal at the 1983 Pan Am Games and led her college team at Murray State University to the NCAA championships in 1987, analyzed her own shortcomings: "I was in the top two nationally for awhile. It wasn't difficult for me to make a team, to win a medal. But once you get into the leading position, you have more to lose. When you're first starting out, all you can see is what's ahead. You don't look back."

Indeed, shooting is a sport won and lost on mental toughness. The sport doesn't discriminate based on height, power, or weight. Women and men compete side-by-side in collegiate competitions with no discernible differences in their scores. The discipline requires intense concentration, however, and even the competitor's own heartbeat can throw her out of contention. Olympic shooters commonly wear several layers of clothing to insulate their heartbeats.

When Wigger failed to make the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, she kept insulating her heartbeat--but she listened to her heart. She began to question her involvement as a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "All I did was shoot all the time," she told the Fort Benning Leader. "I was shooting seven hours a day and that became my life. Before, I had things going on and my main priority was school. And I think shooting should be a priority, but I don't think it should be the only thing you have going. I think that when that happens and you don't have a good competition, you seem to put all your self-worth into the competition."

Wigger's self-doubts were magnified by her frustration at not earning any money. "You're almost stagnant for those years when you're training for the Olympics," she said. "It's like you're not making progress in other areas of your life."

The answer for her was an enlistment in the Wyoming Air National Guard in 1994, and active duty in the Air Force in 1995. While in the Air Force she will serve as an assistant coach for the Air Force Academy rifle team, with an eye on training hopefuls for the Olympics. She has said that she may attend officer candidate school or earn a master's degree.

Has the day job helped her regain her shooting edge? Absolutely. She won a second Pan Am Games gold medal in 1995, earning the U.S. a rifle slot at the 1996 Olympics. On her third attempt to ace the Summer Games, Deena Wigger may well be right on target.


Won gold medals, Pan Am Games, 1983 and 1995; led her college team to the NCAA championships, 1987.

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