Two American Women Make Air Rifle Finals at 2012 Olympics

Team USA
Team USA Shooters Kick-Off 2012 Olympic Games – Two American Women Make Air Rifle Final

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. –-( Day one of 10 is in the books for the shooting competition as the full event schedule of the 2012 Olympic Games kicked off Saturday.

As the first medal event awarded in London, Women’s 10-meter Air Rifle took center stage among all Olympic sports on the day’s opening docket.

That spotlight included Jamie Gray (Lebanon, Pa.) and Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.) who advanced to the final eight competitors and finished fifth and seventh at the Royal Artillery Barracks shooting venue.

The gold medal went to Yi Siling of China, who staged a comeback to win with a score of 502.9. Sylwia Bogacka of Poland took the silver with a 502.2, while Yu Dan of China won the bronze with a 501.5. Reigning Olympic champion Katie Emmons of the Czech Republic found herself in a hole, edging into the final by a mere 0.2 points, then rallied but fell short, finishing fourth with a 500.3. (Emmons is the wife of U.S. shooter and two-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons.

Gray posted a score of 499.7, while Scherer had a 499.0. It marked only the second time the U.S. has advanced two shooters to the final in the event, the other coming at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games when Nancy Napolski-Johnson and Jayme Dickman qualified for finals and Napolski-Johnson won a gold medal for Team USA.

Just to make it into the final eight competitors required grit and determination after Gray and Scherer were among five competitors finishing with a 397 out of 400 that required a five-shot shoot-off for the final four places remaining in the final. Gray finished second in that shoot-off to put her in sixth position overall, while Scherer was third best and came into her first Olympic final in the seventh position.

Gray’s fifth-place position is one spot back from where she finished four years ago in Beijing. Shooting one-tenth of a point less this time around, she’s now missed a medal in the discipline by 2.9 points, or less than 3 millimeters over 100 shots.

“It was interesting shooting a “0” on my first shot of sighters (practice rounds),” Gray said. “But once I got everything back together and ready it was okay. I just put them (my sights) on crooked and then couldn’t find the wrench to fix it. I was a little flustered at first because I’m a slow shooter.”

Gray will compete in the Women’s 50-meter Three-Position Rifle event on Saturday, August 4.

For the first-time Olympian Scherer, there was relief in not only making an Olympic final but the experience that comes with competing in the world’s biggest sporting spectacle.

“This was just crazy intense, my heartbeat was going nuts the whole time,” said Scherer. “It’s one of those environments where you have to get your game on and you don’t let that stuff bother you. You give yourself goals and I just wanted to go up to line giving it all I got and be very smart about my match and the position changes I made and be very attentive on how I was feeling. It’s important to keep the goals simple because when it comes to this type of competition you can get bogged down with too much stuff. I wanted to compete at my top game and I feel I did.”

Asked what she takes away, the Texas Christian University senior said: “Just the experience of it all. It’s one of the top competitions you’ll ever shoot and the pinnacle of athletics and that’s something that stands for itself. It’s a really cool thing to be here and compete and to know that you can be here and you’re on top of the world.”

Her participation in London also carries special significance as she lives out the memories of her late brother Stephen, himself an Olympian back in 2008. Stephen died in 2010, the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“My brother was here back in the 2008 Olympics and I know he’s in heaven watching over me and really rooting for me today,” she said. “I know I’m following in his footsteps and carrying on with the work he. What he achieved encourages me every day. He’s always with me and he’ll always be a part of who I am.”

Men’s 10-meter Air Pistol
Daryl Szarenski (Seale, Ala.) and Jason Turner (Rochester, N.Y.) were unable to advance out of the qualifying round in the men’s 10m air pistol competition. Szarenski shot 575 to finish 23rd, while Turner, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, shot a 569, which placed him 34th.

Competing in his fourth Olympic Games, Szarenski’s qualifying round was shaken after shooting a 93/100 on his second string.

“I think it just came apart a little bit and I was dropping nines out there and I couldn’t pick up on it. It took me a little while to pick up that I needed a little more follow through on it. By the time I realized it, it was just a little too late. They weren’t really bad shots, they were 9s and they weren’t way out there and I wasn’t shanking them. So that’s why it was hard to pick up because they were just barely out and I was like well, they don’t look terrible, so that’s why it took me a little while to pick up on it.”

Szarenski returns to the competition on Sunday, Aug. 5, to shoot in the men’s 50m free pistol event.

Turner suffered through a bad third string with a 91/100. He’d rebound nicely over his next 20 shots but would miss the desired 10-ring six times on his final 10 shots.

“I couldn’t get my trigger to move today,” said a dejected Turner. “My hold was really well but I couldn’t get the trigger moving. I don’t know if I was just a little timid or if was trying to be too precise, but it just wasn’t moving for me.”

On moving forward and trying to keep things, particularly previous Olympic successes, in perspective he added:

“Right now it’s hard to think about that, but when I have a little more time to sit back and digest I’m sure it will still hurt a little bit, but I know it’s not the end and there’s many more things that can be accomplished. The sting comes from only having this chance and this environment once every four years.”

Women’s 10-Meter Air Rifle Top-Eight Finishers:

  • 1. Yi Siling, CHN
  • 2. Sylwia Bogacka, POL
  • 3. Dan Yu, CHN
  • 4. Katerina Emmons, CZE
  • 5. Jamie Gray (Lebanon, Pa.)
  • 7. Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.)
  • 6. Elaheh Ahmadi, IRI
  • 8. Daria Vdovina, RUS

Men’s 10-Meter Air Pistol Top-Eight Finishers:

  • 1. Jin Jongoh, KOR
  • 2. Luca Tesconi, ITA
  • 3. Andrija Zlatic, SER
  • 4. Pang Wei, CHN
  • 5. Oleh Omelchuk, UKR
  • 6. Pablo Carrera, ESP
  • 7. Joao Costa, POR
  • 8. Kai Jahnsson, FIN

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