USA Shooting Team Athletes Hope Spain Truly is Land Where Medals Are Forged

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 8, 2014)

By some etymologic accounts, the origin of the word “Spain” means the land where medals are forged. For 81 USA Shooting Team athletes set to compete at the 2014 International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Championships, Sept. 8-20, they hope that meaning serves as a prophetic reality.  Two months from today (July 8) we’ll find out when athletes take to the line in Air Rifle, Free Pistol and Trap to begin the biggest shooting event on the planet.  

With the conclusion of the 2014 USA Shooting National Championships in Rifle/Pistol Sunday, the team is now set and the arduous task of preparing for the world’s best shooting competition is upon them.  Poised to relish the moment as USA Shooting Team members are select athletes, including 15 Olympians, representing 37 states.  The numbers include 30 shotgun team members, 23 in pistol and 28 rifle competitors.  Per usual, there is a large military presence on this USA Shooting Team with 15 members of the team residing at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit based in Ft. Benning, Ga.  Eleven Olympic Training Center (OTC) Resident Athletes also make up the 81 person team. 

With more than 2,000 competitors set to compete, the Shooting World Championships are by far the biggest shooting event every quadrennium and the competition will be intense with the start of Olympic qualification and 64 quota spots available. Two times more quota spots will be available at these World Championships than in any other competition the next two years leading up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.  

If World Cup success is any indication, the team is poised for great success in the shotgun events as USA Shooting Team athletes have earned 13 of the 48 possible shotgun medals through three events in 2014. A Junior Team contingent featuring all 15 members of the Junior Team that will compete in Spain also earned seven medals as well at a Junior Cup in Suhl, Germany, including three gold, two silver and two bronze along with 11 top-seven performances.  Highlighting this performance was a recent historic medal run at the Munich World Cup in which the shotgun team gathered seven podium finishes.    

The elite Army Marksmanship combination of Glenn Eller (Houston, Texas), Jeff Holguin (Yorba Linda, California) and Josh Richmond (Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania) rarely visits any range in the world without prospecting some hardware with the trio earning five of the 12 World Cup medals handed out this season.  In 32 events since 2008 including Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup Finals and World Cups, an American has finished lower than sixth only six times.  In the nine events since the disappointment in London where no American finished in the top-eight, only once [World Cup Cyprus] has an American finished lower than fifth.   In that stretch, the U.S. team has earned eight medals.  Since 2008, the U.S. Men’s Double Trap Team has won 21 medals in 32 events. In World Championship action, these three have combined to earn eight medals in their careers.  

Certainly, Kim Rhode (El Monte, California) will be looking to add another World Championship medal and is in position to do just that with a stellar start to her season with three World Cup medals, including two golds, in as many chances. Rhode has earned three World Championship medals in her career including gold in Munich, Germany in 2010. Reigning two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia) will compete looking to jump start his next Olympic run and will be joined in the Men’s Skeet event by his 2012 Olympic teammate and friend Frank Thompson (Alliance, Nebraska). Hancock has already earned three World Championships medals in his storied career including two world titles. 

Other members of the shotgun team including Ian Rupert (Muncy, Pennsylvania), Janessa Beaman (Colorado Springs), Dania Vizzi (Odessa, Fla.) and Haley Dunn (Eddyville, Iowa) have all earned Junior World Championship medals at some point in their careers. 

“I’m really looking forward to the 2014 World Championships,” said seven-time World Champs competitor and current National Team Coach for Shotgun Todd Graves.  “I believe we have one of the strongest teams ever. They have won 13 medals so far this year, so the confidence of all the shooters is really high at this time. The junior competitors are coming off two good matches in Suhl (Germany) and the Pennsylvania Junior Grand Prix. All the stars seem to be lining up for the Worlds and now it’s time to make sure those results carry into the biggest competition of the year.” 

Click here for the complete WORLD CHAMPS SHOTGUN ROSTER

Admittedly, there’s a youth movement going on in the rifle program of USA Shooting. But with youth comes optimism and there’s plenty of leadership to show the young sharpshooters the right way led by all-everything Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey).  The three-time Olympic medalist has given up Air Rifle since London, which means more time behind the smallbore gun he loves most. He's made event finals in three of the four World Cup events he's competed in and will hope to earn his first international medal since London and his fourth World Championship medal come September. 

Emmons and his Olympic rifle teammates from 2012 including Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wis.), Eric Uptagrafft (USAMU/Phenix City, Alabama), Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Massachusetts) and Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Washington) will lead a team long on talent, but short on experience.  As an Olympic newcomer in 2012, Scherer was strong making the finals of Air Rifle and finishing seventh overall despite a severe elbow injury that nearly forced her withdrawal less than two weeks before her event.  The 2010 Junior World Champ silver medalist has been strong since as well including this season where she earned a bronze medal in smallbore at World Cup USA followed by a finals placement and seventh-place finish in Air Rifle in Maribor, Slovenia.   

Scherer, Furrer and her other U.S. teammates will look to break a U.S. women's medal drought in the open division that dates back to 1998 when Elizabeth Bourland earned a bronze medal in the 50-meter Prone event.  Add Sarah Beard (Danville, Indiana) to that mix as she's shown she can come up big previously at the World Championships winning a silver medal in junior competition in Prone at the 2010 World Championships.  

“Overall, the theme for this team is youth led by some stellar veterans,” said USA Shooting Director of Operations, Dave Johnson. “In my time with USA Shooting, I have to say this is the youngest group I can remember. Coaches and staff will be working hard to get the team prepared for the first Olympic Quota event of the 2016 cycle. We have been preparing our emerging elite athletes for over two years for this event and we have seen very promising results in all events. I look forward to the World Championships with Team USA.”  

Click here for the complete WORLD CHAMPS RIFLE ROSTER

The pistol team will be led by the resurgence of Rapid Fire Pistol shooter Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs) who has managed his way into all three World Cup finals this season and secured a win in World Cup USA in Ft. Benning, Georgia. The two-time Olympian Sanderson had battled a forearm ailment throughout the last quad but a surgery in 2013 to alleviate the pain he was experiencing in gripping his pistol seems to have helped get Sanderson back to the form that saw him lead his Olympic qualification match in 2008 and finish fifth overall in Beijing.  

Sanderson along with Olympians Jason Turner (Rochester) and Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Alabama) will help try to end a U.S. World Championship medal drought in pistol that dates back to 1981 for the open (non-Junior) division when Don Nygord won a world title in Air Pistol. The last pistol World Championship medalist of any kind was junior pistol shooter Laura Santibanez, a 1998 bronze medalist in the junior 25-meter Pistol event.  

Despite that, the U.S. squad will have a member of its team that does have world championship hardware in Rapid Fire Pistol athlete Emil Milev (Temple Terrace, Florida) as he earned a silver medal in 1994 as a member of the Bulgarian National Team.  The 1996 Olympic silver medalist, Milev has been competing for USA Shooting since 2009 earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team in 2012 and winning the World Cup Finals last year. 

Also worth noting in pistol is the influx of shooting talent originating from Southern California with four of the nine junior team shooters being groomed by Assistant National Team Pistol Coach In Kim and his Bridge Junior Shooting Club, a USA Shooting Certified Training Center.  Those members include Daniel Cheon, Helen Oh, Brian Kim and Tony Chung.  Two other representatives Justin Ahn and Cindy Chung also made the team based on their scores at the recent USA Shooting National Championships but declined their invitation due to school.  

“I’m really pleased with the makeup of this team,” said Pistol National Team Coach Sergey Luzov.  “Most of all our open category athletes have shot internationally competitive scores somewhere along the line and we will have our opportunities in Granada. Certainly, the strength of In-Kim’s Bridge Junior Shooting Club must be recognized for the efforts that go into having placed so many quality representatives on the team.  He’s done an excellent job in helping provide a pathway for young junior shooters to compete in Olympic pistol.  Overall, it’s important for us to be competitive, shoot for our best and help nurture the talent around us.”   

Click here for the complete WORLD CHAMPS PISTOL ROSTER.    

USA Shooting will reveal much more about the 2014 USA Shooting World Championships Team and get you ready for all the action in the two months leading up to the first shots in Granada.   

For a complete World Championships schedule, click here:


But First . . . Granada is not the only site of world championships shooting action this summer.  First up, are the finest Paralympic shooters in the world competing at the 2014 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Shooting World Championships in Suhl, Germany.  This event, which kicks off Saturday, July 19, will feature an unprecedented 268 athletes competing from 55 countries and will include 10 USA Shooting Team athletes including Nick Beach (pictured left).  Look for much more to come on this event in the days ahead.






Categories: Press Releases, 2014 ISSF World Championships