News

2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Preview: Men's & Women's Skeet

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 8, 2012)

TrialsWith three medals in the last three Olympic Games including the reigning gold medalist Vincent Hancock (USAMU/Eatonton, Ga.) and Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.), arguably the sport's greatest champion, the U.S. Skeet Team is a source of considerable strength for USA Shooting. With the journey to the next Olympic podium for Hancock still unfinished he sets aim on the May 17-20 from Tucson, Ariz., for the second round of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun.  

The USA Shooting Team left the 2008 Olympic Games on a high note as Sergeant Hancock put the USA on the Men's Skeet Olympic podium after an eight-year hiatus with a gold medal. The last American male to win a skeet medal in Olympic competition was current Assistant National Coach Todd Graves- a bronze medal in 2000.  

HancockHancock won the first of the USA's two Olympic participation quotas at the 2010 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championships with a fifth place finish. He currently holds a three target lead over the competition with 246/250 targets and will have to maintain a grueling pace over 250 targets to earn his second Olympic berth.  

"I'm feeling confident and I am excited for the chance to represent my country in the Olympics again," said Hancock. "I have been shooting extremely well and with a decent finish at the London World Cup, I believe that I have an excellent shot at the gold again this year. My focus is on shooting my best."

The remainder of the Men's Skeet field is separated by just a handful of targets. U.S. Olympic Training Center Resident Athlete BJ Blanchard (Vidor, Texas) is in the second position with 243 targets. Blanchard, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday next month, doesn't have the international resume of Hancock, yet has been posting high scores on the domestic front the past year.  

The third position is held by 20-year-old Jon Michael McGrath (Tulsa, Okla.) with 241 targets. McGrath was the 2010 ISSF World Championships junior gold medalist and 2011 ISSF World Cup Sydney gold medalist. Tied with McGrath is veteran competitor and former National Shotgun Coach Mark Weeks (USAMU/Clinton Township, Mich.). Resident Athlete Frank Thompson (Alliance, Neb.) is maintaining pressure with 240 targets. Thompson won the second Men's Skeet quota for Team USA at the 2010 Championships of the Americas and looks to fill the second spot in London. 2004 Olympian Shawn Dulohery (Lee's Summit, Mo.) is in sixth with 239 targets.  

The Men's Skeet competitors will shoot 100 targets on May 18 and 19, with the remaining 50 targets and finals on May 20. Olympic selection will include the aggregate of the first round of Trials and the aggregate score and final of the second U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun.

Though the lone Women's Skeet spot has long been held by four-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.), the match will continue as athletes look to position themselves for future success despite Rhode's stranglehold on the field. At the site of her first ISSF World Cup, Morgan Craft (Muncy Valley, Pa.) has a one target lead over teammate Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas) with 234 and 233 targets respectively. Both competitors have shown their comfort with the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club (TTSC) with both making finals at the Tucson World Cup in March as Drozd earned her first World Cup medal with a bronze while Craft finished just behind in fourth position.  

Ali Chiang (Redwood City, Calif.) is in the third with 232 targets and Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, La.) shot 230 for fourth. Jaiden Grinnell (Port Orchard, Wash.) shot 225/250 targets the first round and is returning for the second 250 targets and the chance at the final.  

"For me, it is part stubbornness," said Grinnell, when asked about her motivation to continue to the next Olympic Games in 2016. "It's just what I do. I set this goal and I don't usually quit until it's done. My goal is 2016, and if not, then 2020 . . . as long as I can. It's something that I want to do and Kim is such an inspiration for us-she has been at it so long and is so successful. It gives us something to shoot for. It's the competitive spirit that keeps us driving forward."

2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun Competition Schedule:

Thursday, May 17 - Official Training (all disciplines)

Friday, May 18 - Trap & Skeet (100 Targets), Double Trap (150 Targets)

Saturday, May 19 - Trap & Skeet (100 Targets), Double Trap (150 Targets + FINAL)

Sunday, May 20 - Trap & Skeet (50 Targets + FINAL)

The TTSC has served southern Arizona's shooting sportsman since its original incorporation in 1948. The club has been in its present location, west of historic Tucson, since early 1976 when construction on the 80-acre site was completed.  In preparation for the 2012 World Cup and its designated as a USA Shooting Certified Training Center, the club added 300 acres, five international bunker traps and seven new skeet fields.  

If you're interested in MEDIA ACCREDITATION, please click here:  http://www.usashooting.org/7-events/olympictrialsmedia

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for all sports is a collaborative, three-way partnership between the U.S. Olympic Committee, the national governing bodies and the local organizing committees.  All athletes nominated to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team must be approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee.  

For more information, please contact Kevin Neuendorf at 719-866-4605 or by e-mail at kevin.neuendorf@usashooting.org.

Categories: U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun
National Shooting Sports Foundation