Columbus State University's sports accomplishments include national championships in baseball, men's golf and rifle, two appearances in the Division II Final Four in women's basketball, trips to the NCAA tournament in men's basketball, women's soccer, softball and men's and women's tennis.
But arguably the greatest achievement of all has been turned in not by one of its athletes, but rather one of its coaches, who heretofore could have walked down the strip of Columbus Park Crossing in full uniform and not been recognized.
That itself would be fine with Jamie Gray. She didn't chase her Olympic dream for fame and acclaim. But when Gray returns to work this week as CSU's assistant rifle coach, it's safe to bet that she will be the only Olympic gold medalist on campus.
"This is huge," said CSU head coach Mike Greene. "A lot of people don't realize how big this is. Most people don't have the opportunity to even go to the Olympics. And then to win a gold medal, that's huge."
Gray won the gold Saturday in the women's 50-meter three-position rifle. Her score of 691.9 set an Olympic record, breaking the 690.3 mark set by China's Du Li four years ago in Beijing.
Gray will return from London late Tuesday. Her work is done, but, understandably, she's still preoccupied at the Games. Even her husband, Hank, a member of the Army Marksmanship Unit, has had limited contact with her.
First, a brief rifle tutorial is in order here. Start with the distance and the target. Fifty meters is just shy of 55 yards, so a little over half the length of a football field. The center of the target is about three inches in diameter. But the bull's-eye is just 10.5 millimeters, or, as Hank Gray put it, "about the size of an M&M."
The gun weighs about 14 pounds. It has a sight that the shooter uses to line up with the target, but it's non-magnifying.
The women take 20 shots from each of the three positions -- prone, standing and kneeling -- in the qualifying round. A perfect hit counts 10 points. They have two hours and 15 minutes to complete these 60 shots.
"People watch this and say, 'I could do that,'" said Greene. "Well, no, you couldn't. These are the best shooters in the world. And to win a gold medal in the Olympics, you are THE best in the world."
"It may not seem like an athletic endeavor, but it really is," said Hank Gray. "It takes a lot of hand-eye coordination, and she does a lot of cardio work to keep her heartbeat low."
It's as nerve-wracking as a downhill putt to win the Masters.
Four years ago in Beijing, Gray (then Jamie Beyerle) was in position to win a medal. She was in second place going into the final shot. Medal round shots are worth a maximum of 10.9 points. Seven of Gray's nine shots in the medal round were 10's. Her lowest score was 9.5. Another 9.5 would have captured the bronze. A 9.7 would have won silver. The pressure to be perfect on that final shot was intense. She missed her mark, shooting an 8.7, and finished fifth.
Gray spent the next four years preparing for London. She worked with a sports psychologist and kept training to stay physically fit. She also took the job as CSU's assistant coach in the fledgling program. Hank said coaching has helped her become a better shooter.
Gray left for London with the goal of improving on her Beijing performance. She told Hank, "I would be happy with any medal."
"Shooting is such an individual sport because it's just you and the target," said Hank. "You're just trying to be your best that day. And you hope you're not sick that day. But her best is good enough to win."
Gray's qualifying score this year was 592, an Olympic record and just two points shy of a world record.
The medal round consists of 10 shots, with a 75-second time limit per shot.
Gray built a huge lead, so even an 8.9 on her next-to-last shot hardly put her in jeopardy of a Beijing repeat. But she still wanted to finish strong. She was almost perfect, scoring a 10.8 on her final shot.
"This is a dream come true," Gray told the media after the medal ceremony. "I made a plan and I stepped to it. It was just a great performance."
Indeed it was.
So CSU can start work on the trophy case. And Jay Sparks, CSU's athletic director, may have to give her a raise. He also can get ready for those phone calls trying to hire her away. Jamie has quickly earned a reputation as an outstanding coach and recruiter.
"We'll keep her for as long as we can," Sparks said. "We're fortunate to have Hank in the Army Marksmanship Unit."
-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org