Three U.S. Olympic Team Spots in Rifle Available at 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 30, 2012)

BenningAs pistol athletes take to the lines of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s home ranges in Fort Benning, Ga., rifle shooters are eager to begin their competition for spots on the U.S. Olympic Team.  Only three rifle shooters will earn their nominations to London with top performances in Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position, Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position and Men’s 50m Rifle Prone during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore (.22 caliber), May 31-June 11. 

The first nominee will join Sergeant First Class Eric Uptagrafft (USAMU/Phenix City, Ala.) in Men’s 50m Rifle Prone at the Olympic Games.  Uptagrafft earned his spot on the team through the point system with performances in 2010 and 2011.  Men’s prone begins on June 3 and the decision will be finalized on June 5. 

mcphailStaff Sergeant Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wis.) has emerged as a leading contender in the prone event.  With a bronze medal at the “London Prepares” World Cup and a fourth-place finish at the Milan World Cup, he is on top of his game and has the advantage of shooting on his home range.  McPhail will have to fend off two-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, N.J.).  Emmons, whose Olympic medals have both come in prone, is already a U.S. Olympic Team nominee in Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position and Men’s 10m Air Rifle. 

“I’m going to compete to the very best of my ability,” said Emmons.”  At the same time, I’ve definitely battled some gun issues the past couple of years and I’m just not 100 percent sure of what I’m taking there.   Hopefully what I have is good enough to be competitive.   Yet, when I look at prone, if I don’t make it, our team is so good that we’re going to be well qualified to do what we need to do in London in that event.  With the battles that I’ve had physically and with my equipment, it’s definitely taken a lot of mental energy to stay positive, and because of it I’ve just not been as competitive.  The one thing that’s keeping me sane right now in this process is that experience that I can draw from knowing that I’ve been down this road before and I’ve had to battle through things in the past.  I still have time.”    

Another strong contender is McPhail’s USAMU teammate Sergeant First Class Jason Parker (Columbus, Ga.).  Parker, a three-time Olympian, is the reigning national champion and will also seek an Olympic berth in Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position.  

beardFollowing the prone athletes, Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position begins on June 6.  2012 U.S. Olympic Team nominee Jamie Gray (Lebanon, Pa.) will compete alongside her potential teammate.  Like Uptagrafft, Gray earned her nod through the point system and looks to hone her skills prior to London.  The rest of the women’s smallbore field is stacked with talent and, holds several possible athletes capable of joining Gray.  Sarah Beard (Danville, Ind.), a member of the NCAA National Overall Champion Team from Texas Christian University, won her first national championship title on Phillips range in 2011, and looks to top the field yet again. 

TCU teammate Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.) already earned a nomination to the 2012 Olympic Team for Women’s 10m Air Rifle, but will also toss her name in the hat for smallbore.  Another recognizable face is 2012 National Junior Olympic Champion in both Women’s 10m Air Rifle and Women’s 50m Rifle Prone: Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.).  This 20-year-old reached the smallbore podium at nationals last year and is eager to make her first Olympic team.  In addition, Amy Sowash (Richmond, Ky.) and Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Wash.) are strong contenders as well.  Sowash finished 20th at the London Prepares World Cup recently and is the 2010 National Champion in the event.  Furrer was the bronze medalist at the 2011 Nationals and has been training daily at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs after the NCAA Championships.

“Having already qualified for the Team definitely takes a load off this time around,” said Scherer. 
“I haven’t put as much training in as I would like in smallbore, but I’m not worried about it.  If it happens, it happens.   It’s a great opportunity and I’m going to work really hard to try and earn that spot.  There are more than a handful of women who can make this team and who are competing very well at this level right now and each of them are my really good friends and so if any of them make it I’m going to be psyched.” 

ParkerIn Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position, Parker finished his ISSF World Cup season on a high note with a gold medal in Milan.  Parker was also a top-10 athlete in London and is ready to make his fourth Olympic team.  He won the national championship last year on his home range with a very comfortable 10-point plus margin.  In shooting however, any day can be your competitor’s best day, and USAMU teammate Sergeant Joe Hein (Lansing, Mich.), who won a gold medal at the 2010 Championships of the Americas for the USA’s first men’s smallbore quota, is also in the hunt to join Emmons in London. 

“The Olympic Trials are always a special time for a lot of people because of the emotions and significance of the match.  This match will be a little different from other tryouts I’ve been a part of in that there are a lot more athletes shooting high scores right now.  I’m glad to have ended the season on a high note in Milan and I’m looking forward to the competition here in Benning.”


2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore and USA Shooting National Championships Rifle Schedule

June 3-5: Men’s 50m Rifle Prone  

June 3-4: Women’s 50m Rifle Prone (non-Olympic event)

June 6-8: Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position

June 7-8: Men’s 10m Air Rifle (Olympians decided in February 2012)

June 9-11: Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position

June 10-11: Women’s 10m Air Rifle (Olympians decided in February 2012)

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. 

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Categories: U.S. Olympic Trials