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Rio in Sight . . . One Year Before USA Shooting Team Writes Next Great Olympic Chapter in Rio de Janeiro

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (August 4, 2015)

The stage is set for the next great Olympic chapter in USA Shooting’s proud history as the athletes, staff, members, sponsors and fans of the sport get set to welcome the one-year countdown to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

A year from tomorrow (August 5), 10,000-plus athletes will gather once again for the world’s greatest sporting spectacle. Between now and then, there is plenty to decide, but for now there’s something particularly gratifying in knowing that Rio is in Sight and four years of exhaustive work and preparation is boiled down into days - not years.

On the to-do list before then for USA Shooting Team athletes will be earning more Olympic quotas and securing individual team appointments. The USA Shooting Team has earned 20 of the possible 30 quotas (two per 15 Olympic events) available in the three disciplines, having solidified both quotas in Prone Rifle, Men’s Air Rifle, Men's Rapid Fire Pistol, Men’s Double Trap and Men’s & Women’s Skeet. The U.S. is still hunting for an additional quota in Women’s Air Rifle, Men’s & Women’s Three-Position Rifle, Men’s & Women’s Air Pistol, Men’s Free Pistol, Women’s Sport Pistol and Women’s Trap. The U.S. has yet to earn any quotas in Men’s Trap. The final Quota opportunity for Rifle/Pistol athletes starts August 8 at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Azerbaijan.  Shotgun athletes still have two opportunities remaining, including Azerbaijan and September’s Shotgun World Championship in Lonato, Italy.  A quota spot is essentially the entry ticket necessary for a country to compete in Olympic competition in a particular discipline. A country is allowed to earn up to two quotas in each event, and an athlete can win only one quota for his/her country - regardless of the discipline. When an athlete wins an Olympic quota, it does not guarantee him/her a slot on the Olympic team. Olympic team slots will be determined through a separate selection procedure.  For more quota info, check out the Rio in Sight informational page here.

Individual selection for Olympic candidacy gets underway beginning in October with Shotgun’s Fall Selection Match in Tucson, Arizona, followed by the first half of Airgun (Air Rifle and Air Pistol) selection in December at the Winter Airgun Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Shotgun and Airgun disciplines will determine Olympic selection based off a cumulative total of two separate events while Smallbore (Men’s Rapid Fire, Free and Women’s Sport Pistol, as well as Men’s and Women’s Three-Position Rifle) will earn their way at one event in April. For more on individual Olympic qualification, check out the Rio in Sight informational page here. 

The USA Shooting Team is determined to maintain its history of success, with a past that includes 107 medals, including four in the most recent Olympic Games in London. Three of them are among the talented crop of team members once again vying for a spot on Team USA. 

In a sport where athletes distinguish themselves by the slimmest of margins, athletes such as Kim Rhode (El Monte, California), Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey) and Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia) should not go unnoticed. These shooting perfectionists have scaled new heights with their dominating performances. Their history-making accomplishments are a testament to the will, resolve and dedication they each have for their craft. 

Domination and the pursuit of perfection haven’t become a once-in-a-while thing, but rather a full-time occupation for the five-time Olympian Rhode who now owns a U.S. Olympic record of five medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. Just last month, Rhode was the only athlete to set or tie a world record as she defended her Women’s Skeet gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. As Rio rounds into view, Rhode has a new challenge in her Mix for Six as she tries to maintain her status as best in the world while being a mother to son Carter, born May 2013. 

"It's that moment on the podium, watching the flag going to the top of the pole, hearing the national anthem, and remembering the journey it took to get there. That's what I remember most and it is that moment that has me excited to see how this journey will go in Rio 2016,” said Rhode. “I've trained hard and I know that there's nothing else I could have done. Now, it is time to have fun in the final competitions leading up to Rio!"  

Hancock was as good as he’s ever been in 2012 with a performance that saw him win his second straight Olympic gold medal.  With unmatched drive and competitive desire, the world’s best skeet shooters might be lining up behind him for a long time to come. 

Emmons’ body of work, with three Olympic medals and 50 international shooting medals, suggests simply that Emmons is one of the best marksmen in history; becoming just the fourth shooter ever to win individual rifle shooting medals at three or more Games. 

"One year out from Rio – great! Let’s get this party started,” Emmons said. “Personally, I’m really happy with where I’m at. Things are progressing well and I’m looking forward to the next year of training and competitions. Of course, I’m not qualified for the Olympic Team yet, but that’s the goal. Qualify and then go to Rio feeling strong and intent on performing great. I live for those moments, so that’s what’s lighting my fire every day. 

"I’m also really looking forward to seeing what my team does next year. I truly believe we have so much potential for greatness. If everyone does their part (athletes and staff), works hard in their respective areas and works to create that exciting and positive environment we’ve had in the past, there’s no telling what we can do. It’s going to be fun!" 

Rhode, Hancock and Emmons are not the only storylines as Rio approaches. As always, there’s a veteran mix of talent including several Olympic standouts with their eye on another Olympic run.  Additionally, there’s a present youth movement that has grabbed ahold of the sport in 2015.  This year alone at the height of 2016 Olympic qualification, 13-year-old pistol shooter Carson Saabye (Larkspur, Colorado)became the youngest USA Shooting National Team member in the history of the sport.  Also in Pistol, 18-year-old Lydia Paterson (Kansas City, Kansas) earned a rare Olympic quota in Women's Air Pistol.  In Rifle, a pair of teenagers in Sarah Osborn (16, Hampton, Virginia) and Elizabeth Marsh (17, Searcy, Arkansas), both earned nomination to the Pan American Games team and have competed in 2015 World Cups. Eighteen-year-old Virginia Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia) will make her World Cup debut in Azerbaijan later this week hoping to earn the remaining Olympic quota in Women's Air Rifle.  For more athlete/sport storylines, links to the latest athlete features and additional quotes, check out the Rio in Sight page at www.usashooting.org/rioinsight. 

Reputations aren’t built overnight and USA Shooting’s significance as an Olympic sporting power has as much to do with its extensive history as does its recent accomplishments.  Throughout our system, whether it’s the tested and recognized veterans or those looking to establish themselves as the next great Olympic story, the storylines are plentiful.  Rio is In Sight, and we cannot wait. 

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National Shooting Sports Foundation