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Olympic Shooting: Free Pistol & Double Trap RECAPS

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (August 10, 2016)

Will Brown. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images/Geoff BurkeAfter their performances Wednesday in shooting’s most difficult event,  Will Brown and Jay Shi can walk away happy from their first Olympic experience after notable high rankings in tough, windy conditions. 

Competing in the Free Pistol event, both athletes came just short of getting the 556/600 they needed to make finals, with Brown shooting a 555 and Shi a 553.  Those scores would earn a Brown a top-10 finish in 10th with Shi settling for 14th overall.  

Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho) had finished 12th in Air Pistol on Saturday.  Sure, it wasn’t the medal he sought in either event, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find the results great nonetheless.  Brown’s two-gun finish was better overall than the 10 previous U.S. attempts since 1988 when both Air and Free Pistol were on the Olympic program at the same time. Brown’s finish Wednesday will go down as the highest U.S. Olympic finish in this event since 1992 and only the third top-10 finish since 1964. 

When talking about his match, Brown said: “You know, it’s really not that bad. It’s kind of hard to be upset by that. Overall, a good performance. I did some things mentally that were really good. I’ve learned a lot of things and I can take the things I did right for next time. My mental game was much stronger this time, and it’s something I can build and improve on.” 

“I’m just a guy from Idaho who has been blessed with a loving family, great friends, and an awesome opportunity to represent my country at something I enjoy so much,” Brown added about his overall Olympic experience.

The 37-year-old Shi leaves Rio with two top-20 finishes after an 18th-place result in Air Pistol as well. Having emigrated from China when he was just 10 years old with his parents seeking better medical treatment for an eye injury he endured when a scissors slipped in his hand, Shi originally sought to become a 2008 Olympian with the Games in his native China. Having archery in his past, Shi decided to give shooting a shot. He quickly earned a spot on the USA Shooting’s National Team, but didn’t quite make the Olympic Team that year. He didn’t let that stop him, though.

With his new found passion, Shi has taken great strides toward becoming one of USA Shooting’s pistol powers despite an odd technique he has to employ due to the eye injury he suffered, shooting out of his left eye despite being right-handed. He dominated the Olympic Trials with a smashing 26-point advantage over all his competition and, previous to that, winning a silver medal at the Pan American Games in 2015 for Air Pistol. Shi is a star on the rise. Don’t take your eye off him, or he may just shoot out of sight.

History was made on the podium today. Jin Jongoh of the Republic of Korea captured sport history by winning his third consecutive Olympic gold in Free Pistol and fourth overall. He’s the first four-time individual gold medalist now too in a sport that’s been on the Olympic program since 1896.

Jin, 36, claimed the title in extraordinary fashion, at the end of a spine-chilling final match. The Korean athlete started off the final as the favorite, but a frustrating 6.6 fired on his ninth shot landed him in last place, 5.2 points behind the leader Kim of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The champion fired back, nailing a series of exceptional shots to climb the scoreboard, position after position, to eventual pocket the top podium spot.

With his last four shots, Jin beat Vietnam’s Hoang Xuan Vinh, who settled for silver and the Democratic’s People’s Republic of Korea’s Kim Song Guk earned bronze.  It was the first time since 2004 that athletes from North and South Korea shared the podium since 2004. 

DOUBLE TRAP RECAP

Josh Richmond. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, IMCOM Public Affairs Following four years of disappointment from poor Olympic results in London, the Double Trap duo of Josh Richmond (Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania) and Glenn Eller (Houston, Texas) came to Rio seeking revenge.  They came short of cashing in on the goal, but overall the experience was better even despite the damp conditions.

Both shooters represent two of the four athletes in Rio from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) in Fort Benning, Georgia. Rifle shooters Michael McPhail (Darlington, Wisconsin) and Dan Lowe (Olympia, Washington) are also competing. 

A third-round 23/30 would be Richmond’s undoing from a possible berth in the semifinals, but not before a valiant final two rounds in which he dropped just two targets and a 12-target three-person shoot-off he’d eventually lose to two-time Olympic bronze medalist Fehaid Aldeehani, who would later go on to win an historic gold medal as well.  Richmond would settle for an eight-place finish, eight places higher than in London.

“Certainly a lot better feeling than London’s performance,” Richmond said. “It’s not what you are after at the end of the day, but anytime you’re progressing in your sport, that’s a good thing.  Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the experience I’ve gained here. Getting closer and closer to that medal is creating a bigger fire for me and I look forward to trying out for another team.”

It took Eller 100 targets to get comfortable and find his stride. By then it was way too late, 17 targets down by that point.   

“I got started too late,” he admitted. “I thought the wind was doing stuff to me and it was a little, but that’s not what my issue was and I didn’t find out what it was until it was too late.”

Prodded as to what the issue was, he admitted it was a problem with the way he was setting his eyes to see the targets. “We hadn’t trained here in conditions like this, so I just didn’t know I had to go there,” he said.  “So, I fought it and fought it thinking it was other things and would get it to where it was feeling half comfortable.  Ten targets into the fourth round and I missed four on my first pass through and I did something with my eyes, and it was then I said to myself ‘you idiot.’  I shot great after that, hitting 48 out of the last 50. It is like trying to run a marathon on one leg and then realizing you have two.”

He’d finish 14th overall, four targets back of the score needed to join the shoot-off to get into the semifinals.  Still, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Champion came to Rio already successful having become the first U.S. male shotgun athlete to make five Olympic Teams. 

Competing for the Independent Olympic Athletes (IOA), Aldeehani, secured the first Olympic gold medal for IOA athletes and first medal since the 1992 Barcelona Games.  All of the medals have come in shooting competitions. Al-Deehani is of Kuwaiti descent, but sanctions forbid the nation from participating in the Olympics.  The 49-year old shooter beat Italy’s Marco Innocenti, 26-24, in the Gold medal match, after winning the semifinal with 28 hits out of 30 targets.  Great Britain Steven Scott claimed bronze, beating his teammate Tim Kneal with a perfect score of 30 out of 30 hits to Kneal’s 28.

*Special thanks to the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) for their editorial contributions to this story.

Following four years of disappointment from poor Olympic results in London, the Double Trap duo of Josh Richmond (Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania) and Glenn Eller (Houston, Texas) came to Rio seeking revenge.  They came short of cashing in on the goal, but overall the experience was better even despite the damp conditions. 

Both athletes represent two of the four athletes from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning, Georgia.  Rifle shooters Michael McPhail (Darlington, Wisconsin) and Dan Lowe (Olympia, Washington) are also competing in Rio.

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