Mental Floss

How Geena Davis's Archery Obsession Nearly Landed Her a Spot on the 2000 Olympic Team

Jake Rossen
Geena Davis made an Olympic run.
Geena Davis made an Olympic run. / Adam Pretty/GettyImages

While Geena Davis might be best known for her turns in Beetlejuice (1988), Thelma and Louise (1991), and A League of Their Own (1992), there’s one role she narrowly missed out on: Olympic archer.

In 2020, Davis explained to People that the detour into the relatively obscure sport of archery began in 1996, when she was watching the Atlanta Olympic Games and found herself drawn to footage of athletes aiming for a bullseye.

Geena Davis is pictured
Davis at an Olympic trial. / Jeff Christensen/RETIRED/GettyImages

She was particularly entranced by Justin Huish, an American gold medalist. “I was fascinated by how he shot arrows across the street at home and through his garage,” Davis told The New York Times in 1999, just as her involvement was becoming public. “It was kind of cool. He made it sound like fun, and that inspired me eventually to look into it. I met Justin at the beginning of 1997. He hooked me up with his coach that spring and I started taking lessons.”

Davis, who was 41 at the time, had experience with some high school sports but wanted to pursue a single discipline. She had, she said, found herself excelling in roles that required a measure of athletic prowess, like baseball for League, and wanted to see how far she could go.

Geena Davis is pictured
Geena Davis on target. / Adam Pretty/GettyImages

While there’s a vast difference between hobbyist and Olympian, Davis still found herself circulating among the upper tiers of the sport. Hiring a coach and practicing nearly every day, she participated in a 2000 Sydney Olympic qualifier in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and finished 24th out of 28 participants (despite having trained for only two years). Only the top 16 advanced to the next round. It was close—but not close enough—to landing her an Olympic spot.

People notes that there was a sharp uptick in women entering the archery field following the popularity of The Hunger Games franchise as well as Pixar’s Brave. Davis undoubtedly had something to do with it, too.

[h/t People]