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Behind-the-Scenes Scoop From the Olympic Archer Who Trained Katniss for The Hunger Games

Written on August 1, 2012 at 9:32 am , by

Lorig has Olympic gold in her sights. (Photo by Teresa Iaconi)

Fewer than 500 people have competed in five different Olympic Games. Among them: 38-year-old archer Khatuna Lorig, who carried the flag for the U.S. at the 2008 closing ceremony. Lorig’s other claim to fame? Training Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss, to look authentic using a bow and arrow in The Hunger Games film adaptation (which is available on DVD and digital download on August 18).

We caught up with the accomplished athlete, who is currently ranked fourth after the women’s individual ranking round, to learn more about her quest for gold and what it’s like to train a tribute.

How does it feel to be competing in your fifth Olympic Games? What does training look like leading up to the competition?

It feels great!  Typically, we train from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an hour for lunch. Since we’re getting to the last minute, we do about four hours a day now.

What qualities make for a medal-worthy archer?

You need a very strong upper body. Women usually use bows that weigh 43 or 44 pounds, while men use 49-pound or heavier bows. I use one that weighs 47 pounds.

Wow, that sounds intense to be lifting that during all of your training and competitions! Do you cross train to build strength and stay in shape?

Any free weight exercises for shoulders and arms are great, but I like to make sure I work my legs and heart too. I lift for about an hour, then finish with two or three miles of running. And of course a soak in the jacuzzi!

To find out about a fun mutual admiration society between Lorig and Lawrence, click below.

You trained Jennifer Lawrence for her role as Katniss in The Hunger Games film. Were you a fan of the series prior to getting the job?

No, Jennifer told me about the books when I met her. Then I finished them in three or four days! I didn’t know much about Jennifer either—shame on me! Three days in to our 15-day training, I Googled her name. The next day I came in and said, “OMG. You are a movie star!” She said, “Are you kidding me? You’re a four-time Olympian!”

Were you surprised by Jennifer’s abilities? And do you think the archery in the film seemed legitimate?

She was very motivated and technically very good. I do think it looked good in the film. You can absolutely shoot apples from 80 to 100 yards out [like Jennifer's character did].

The Catching Fire movie is coming up. Have you been contacted about helping with that as well?

I haven’t been asked, but would jump at the chance if it came up!

Lately, there have been a lot of movies with characters that tote a bow and arrow (Hawkeye in The Avengers, Merida in Brave, Katniss in The Hunger Games). If you could have any of these characters as teammates in London, which would you choose?

Probably Katniss!

More from FITNESS: We teamed up with USA Archery to thank Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, for making the sport trendy.