A Lebanon County woman not only ascended to the top of her sport and became the world’s greatest athlete in her given discipline, but she also competed for and represented her country in international competitions.

Jamie Corkish holding her Olympic gold medal.

Nine years have passed since Jamie Beyerle Corkish became what is believed to be the first and only Lebanon County native to ever win an Olympic gold medal. Then, competing as Jamie Gray, the 2002 graduate of Cedar Crest High School won the women’s 50-meter, three-position air rifle competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The 2021 Summer Olympics will be contested in Tokyo from July 23 to Aug. 8, and the pending competition provided Corkish with an opportunity to reflect on that special time in her life. While winning a gold medal as a member of Team USA has never defined Corkish as a person, it still continues to have a profound effect on her life, one that is now centered in Meridian, Idaho with her husband Mike and their children.

“There’s a saying from the movie, Miracle, ‘It’s not about the name on the back, it’s about the name on the front,’” said Corkish, who grew up in Lebanon as Jamie Beyerle. “It was then, and it still is, first and foremost, about competing for the United States and this great country we’re from. That comes first in my mind. But for me, it was also important competing as a female athlete.

“There is that part of it (being the best in the world), but that couldn’t have happened without having that support. I didn’t have to fund myself. I had Team USA supporting me. There is that individual piece to it. It’s an individual sport. It’s you and the target. But before that, it’s never just you.”

Corkish entered the 2012 Summer Olympics in London ranked 12th in the world, but she established a new Olympic record with her final score of 691.9 points in the 50-meter, three-position air rifle event. She had also set a new Olympic standard with a score of 592 in the preliminary/qualifying round.

With her performance, Corkish won the gold medal easily, over silver medalist Ivana Maksimovic of Serbia.

“In my first event, I put my site on crooked, and it took me seven minutes to figure it out,” said Corkish. “But I always shot better in competition than I did in practice. I was super ready for The Games. As athletes, we talk about ‘in the zone.’ It was easy. The match didn’t feel hard. But that’s why we prepare for competition. That’s why it was easy.”

“But I think it was just all about the Olympic experience in general,” she added. “You are there together, as Team USA. It’s all about the journey, and we as athletes had all gone through that journey to get there that summer. That’s emotional. You’re celebrating that journey with the world.”

Four years earlier, in Beijing, Corkish’s Summer Olympic experience hadn’t been as grand. In position for medals, Corkish, then 24, finished fifth in the women’s 50-meter three-position air rifle competition and fourth in the women’s 10-meter air rifle event.

She turned that disappointment into motivation.

“I remember them as learning Games for me,” said Corkish. “I shot a bad shot on my last shot, and it took me out of a medal. But I needed that failure. It made me refocus my training. You learn more from failure than you do from success. It was hard. I was upset. It was devastating to go from a medal position to fifth. But it was necessary.”

“Honestly, it’s all about dedication and hard work,” Corkish continued. “When you set your mind to something, you have to stick to it. Are you willing to put in the work? You can say you have to put the work in, but you have to actually do it. It’s also about the people who support you on that journey. You’re an Olympian yourself, but your family, your friends, your coaches all have an impact.”

As an athlete, Corkish was proud to be a Lebanon County native and a woman.

In the summer of 2012, Corkish returned to the United States and Lebanon as a conquering heroine. Her gold-medal accomplishment was celebrated with numerous events – too many to count – within and outside of Lebanon County.

Corkish graciously accommodated as many of the requests for her personal time as possible, remaining true to the belief that her gold medal had resulted from everyone who impacted her life.

“It was awesome,” said Corkish, now 37. “The support system from Lebanon was amazing. The support I received at the ceremony (at the courthouse) in the city of Lebanon was awesome. For me, it was about sharing. I’d have people come up to me and say, ‘Ooh, can I touch your medal?’ I’d tell them, ‘Of course, you can. It’s not mine.’ It’s super fun to share.”

In many ways, Corkish’s gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London was the culmination of a spectacular 12-year national and international shooting career that included gold medals and medals at such prestigious events like the World Cup and the World Championships.

“The big thing in shooting is that the Olympics is on the big stage,” said Corkish. “The Olympics are held on the top stage, but it isn’t the hardest event in the world to win. None of the other international shooting events gets as much media coverage as the Olympics. What makes it hard is that it puts you in the public’s eye. That’s what makes it more difficult.”

As Jamie Beyerle, Corkish began shooting BB guns at age 8, and she did most of her early local shooting at Palmyra Sportsmen’s Association. After graduating from Cedar Crest, Corkish matriculated to the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, a nationally renowned shooting college.

Corkish picked herself up after a failure, which ultimately led her to win an Olympic gold medal.

Yet, despite all of her success over the years, Corkish never allowed it to go to her head, remaining well-grounded and true to her Lebanon County upbringing.

“The big for me is: ‘What can I learn from it?’” said Corkish. “Nine years out, and the question is, ‘How can I pass it on?’ There’s definitely the hard work. I’m always going to outwork someone. Hard work is so important in my life.”

“It’s also about learning from your failures,” Corkish added. “Everyone has failures, but it’s about how we come out of those failures. It’s also perseverance. Things are never going to go how we think they’re going to go.”

Not long after her gold-medal triumph in 2012, Corkish announced that she would begin training to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janerio. However, a lingering back injury forced her to retire in 2014.

These days, Corkish fills the time once used for training with work as an operational training specialist with Intuit Quickbooks, as co-owner with husband Mike of a local brewery in Idaho, occasional coaching and raising their children.

“I didn’t think it was going to be too bad,” said Corkish, of her retirement from shooting. “But when you spend 20 years putting all your time and energy into the same sport, and then it’s gone, it’s a challenge. You’ve got to figure out real life.

“I think there are some times when I’m still trying to work out who I am without the shooting. You had all of this, but then they take away your children, they take away your family. That’s what it’s like when you retire from sports. It’s a different mindset.”

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Support local journalism.

Cancel anytime.


🌟 Annual

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

Jeff Falk is a seasoned journalist based in Lebanon, PA. He's a graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Penn State University, and a lifelong resident of Lebanon, born and raised. Currently, he is a feature writer for Engle Publishing in Lancaster, the editor of LebCoSports.com, sports director at WLBR...