Olympian drops out of sports show
BY P.J. REILLY, Staff Writer
Local Olympic gold-medalist Jamie Gray is the latest celebrity to drop out of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.
A 2002 graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Gray won the gold medal in women's 50-meter, three-position rifle at the London games last summer.
In announcing on her Facebook page her decision to drop out of the show scheduled Feb. 2-10 at the State Farm Show Complex, Gray said, "My decision is due to what I feel would be an inability as an Olympic athlete to represent my sport, industry and USA Shooting teammates in the best possible manner given the political climate that will be present as a result of the decisions that have been made.
"The message that I hope to instill in the participants of the [show] can only be muddled as a result of the current situation."
Nearly all of the hunting and shooting-sports celebrities, such as Gray, who were supposed to appear at this year's show to sign autographs and give seminars, have backed out.
All point to last week's decision by Reed Exhibitions to ban the display and sale of assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines as the reason they won't appear.
About 200 exhibitors, including several from Lancaster County, also have said they won't attend.
The National Rifle Association joined that list Wednesday.
"We had called on Reed Exhibitions to reconsider their decision," the organization states on its website. "Unfortunately they have steadfastly refused to do so.
"As a result, the NRA will not be participating in the upcoming show in Harrisburg or in any other shows hosted by Reed Exhibitions that maintain this policy."
Boycott supporters have said Reed's move flies in the face of the Second Amendment.
In announcing the ban, Reed said, "We have made the decision not to include certain products that in the current climate may attract negative attention that would distract from the strong focus on hunting and fishing at this family-oriented event and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests."
Through Wednesday morning, Gray's scheduled appearance was featured prominently on the home page of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.
The listing stated the Lebanon native would appear Feb. 8-10.
Gray, 28, said in her Facebook announcement that the decision not to appear did not come easy.
"My purpose in attending this show in years past has always been to help provide a deeper knowledge and understanding for the Olympic shooting sports, and as a way to give back to my local community, given its proximity to where I grew up," she states.
"As an Olympic gold medalist, passing on those values and knowledge [have] become even more important for me today."
Gray grew up shooting on the ranges at Palmyra Sportsmen's Association and Myerstown Rod and Gun Club.
She won her first junior national championship at the age of 13.
In the three-position, small-bore competition, shooters fire 20 shots each from the prone, standing and kneeling positions.
Gray competed for Team USA in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where she fell out of medal contention in the final round of competition.
She came back in 2012, capping her gold-medal performance with a perfect last shot.
While she still has family in the Lebanon area, Gray now lives in Alabama with her husband, Hank, who is in the U.S. Army.