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ON THE MARK; LOSS OF GRANDMOTHER STOPPED FIRST OLYMPIC BID, BUT EX-SIMI VALLEY RESIDENT READY TO TRY AGAIN.

Byline: Nevin Barich Staff Writer

While going after his biggest dream three years ago, Mark Hainline encountered his biggest nightmare.

In 1996, Hainline, a 25-year-old former resident of Simi Valley, was competing in the Olympic Trial semifinals in Ohio, closing in on his dream of making the Olympics in archery. But on the day of the competition, Hainline received a phone call: His grandmother had died of a stroke.

``Of all the family members I had, my grandmother was the most supportive of me with my archery,'' said Hainline, a former member of the Conejo Valley Archers Club who now lives in San Diego. ``She didn't know much about it, but she always told me I was going to be the best.

``She was like my mom.''

Despite the heartache, Hainline went on with the competition. While he shot well, just missing the cut by placing 17th (the top 16 go on to the next round of the semifinals), it was obvious the loss of a loved one had a profound effect on his performance.

``I know it did,'' Hainline said. ``The whole tournament, she was all I thought about. I didn't sleep all weekend, I didn't eat.''

Sorrow affected his Olympic dream the first time, but now Hainline will have a second chance when he competes in the Olympic Trial semifinals Aug. 24 in Bloomfield, N.J.

Hainline qualified after placing in the top 32 in the quarterfinals last month in Ohio, finishing 23rd. In the semifinals, the group of players will be cut to 16 and later to eight. The eight remaining finalists will then go on to the finals in Chula Vista on Sept. 4-5. The top three will then head to Sydney, Australia for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.

``His shooting's been really awesome. I think he has a great chance of making the team,'' said John Norberg, Hainline's instructor from 1987-1994. ``He's basically the same as he was three years ago. He's got a real sweet shot.''

Hainline got started when he was 7. According to Hainline, archery was something his father had always wanted to try. From then on, he was hooked. He soon joined the Conejo Valley Archers Club and their Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) program.

``When he was 14 or 15 years old, Mark became real sound mentally,'' Norberg said. ``He would mentally outshoot the other players. Whatever was wrong, he would fix it.''

In 1991, Hainline was selected as an alternate for the Pan American team. Also that year, he placed eighth at the Junior World Games in Norway. In 1993, he finished 17th at the World Archery Championships in Turkey and it was there that Hainline became convinced he might have a future in the sport.

``At that point, I knew I could actually come here and win that tournament,'' Hainline said. ``I thought to myself, `You know what? These are the best archers in the world and I'm hanging with them.' ''

The crowning achievement to date in Hainline's archery career came in 1995, when he took home the gold medal at the U.S. Olympic Festival in Boulder, Colo. The Festival featured the best athletes from all regions of the country.

As Hainline approaches the semifinals and a chance to fulfill his Olympic dream, his thoughts also gravitate toward the possibility of leaving the sport he's been a part of for the last 17 years. While he's not sure whether he would quit if he doesn't make the Olympics, Hainline has hinted that making the team, and especially winning the gold medal, might be the icing to top off a great career.

``On that day, no one can touch you,'' said Hainline, talking about how it would feel to take home the gold. ``You're the best in the world. It's a nice way to go out.''

For now, though, Hainline chugs forward and on Aug. 24 he'll take another step toward his dreams of making the team and capturing a medal.

``If I make the team,'' Hainline said, ``I'm not stopping until I get on to the center of that podium.''

No doubt his grandmother will be watching, supporting him every step of the way.

HAINLINE PROFILE

Name: Mark Hainline

Age: 25

Sport: Archery

Notable: Placed in the top 32 at the Olympic Trials quarterfinals in July. . . . Will compete in semifinals Aug. 24 at Bloomfield, N.J. . . . Won gold medal at U.S. Olympic Festival in 1995.

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo: (color) Former S.V. resident Mark Hainline competes in the Olympic Trials this month, hoping for a U.S. roster spot.

Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer

Box: Hainline file (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 11, 1999
Words:774
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