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USFWS: Illinois Refuge Manager Earns Spot on Olympic Team   PDF  Print  E-mail 
Written by Scott Flaherty, FWS  
Friday, 06 August 2004

You can add "Olympian" next to John Magera's title of Refuge Manager at Region 3's Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois. A little more than a year after competing in his first bow tournament, Magera, 34, is representingthe United States at the 2004 Summer Olympics as a member of the U.S. Olympic Archery Team. The novice Olympian won't be too difficult to identify during his matches, either. He'll be the archer wearing a Blue Goose patch on his gear.

Magera earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team after finishing third at the Olympic Archery Team Trials held June 15-19 in Mason, Ohio. Magera's surprising finish was a big surprise to himself and to the established ranks of the U.S. archery community, who watched a relative novice out-shoot numerous world-ranked archers, including three former Olympians.

"My only goal was to get into the top 16 and if I did that, I would've been completely happy going home," said Magera. "In the back of my mind, I thought I might be able to make the top eight, but never expected this. I don't think it's really sunk in yet that I am actually on the Olympic Team."

Less than a month after the Olympic trials, Magera was off to Europe where his achievement did sink in. In his first-ever international competition, he tied for 28th place out of 107 archers at the European Grand Prix in Antalya, Turkey July 13-17. "It was a great experience, even though I didn't do as well as I had hoped I would. But my coach and team mates said I did pretty darn good for my first time in an international competition."

While competing, Magera will sport a small (2.5 inch by 4.5 inch) Blue Goose patch on his chest protector, and most likely any other place he can find to sew one. "I've worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Refuge System ever since I was in college and if you cut me, I'd probably bleed blue," Magera said. "I thought the Olympics would be a great place to promote our National Wildlife Refuges. The Blue Goose is going to Athens as my personal logo."

John's wife Karin, a Park Ranger at Crab Orchard NWR near Marion, Ill., will also travel to Athens to watch her husband compete. "I knew John was certainly capable of doing well in tournaments, but to be doing well enough to compete in the Olympics is great," said Karin "We're going to have a little cheering section for him." Since being named to the Olympic team, the Mageras have been embraced by residents of the southern Illinois communities that are home to the Middle MississippiRiver and Crab Orchard Refuges. Carterville, Ill., realtor and John's hunting partner Mark Krones is leading a community effort to raise money to send Karin and John's mother to Athens. John's experiences in Athens are being reported almost daily in the Southern Illinoisan newspaper (www.southernillinoisan.com).

Magera joins 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist Vic Wunderle of Mason City, Ill., and three-time Olympian Butch Johnson of Woodstock, Conn., on the men's team. The team arrived in Athens August 3. The 11-day Olympics begin August 13. Archery competition runs from August 15-21. With a little luck, calm winds and a keen aim, Magera could be adding "Olympic medalist" to his growing list of titles.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 August 2004 )

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