Colorado Springs, CO -(AmmoLand.com)- Showcasing the strength that helped earn him two World Cup victories in 2015, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) athlete Michael McPhail earned an Olympic Team nomination today with a win in Prone Rifle at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Final in Munich, Germany.
He becomes the third USA Shooting Team athlete to do so in recent weeks following in the footsteps of Vincent Hancock(Men’s Skeet/Eatonton, Georgia) and Keith Sanderson (Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol/Colorado Springs, Colorado). Athletes can earn Olympic nomination one of two ways via USA Shooting’s selection procedures. First way is earning a spot outright by collecting enough points based on 2015 World Cup performances; or earning a spot through the traditional Olympic Trials process. Learn all about the process and more Rio In Sight info here.
Today’s gold put an exclamation point on a banner year for the 33-year-old Wisconsin native. The win helped stave off teammate and three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey) who was motivated to try and overtake McPhail for USA Shooting’s Olympic nomination. Emmons gave it his best shot, finishing as the top qualifier followed by McPhail in second, but he wouldn’t have enough in the Finals, eventually finishing seventh overall. In order to push McPhail from his nomination Emmons would have needed a top-two finish and for McPhail not to have medaled.
Emmons will get another chance for his Olympic nomination coming up Sunday in Three-Position Rifle and will need a top-three performance to guarantee a fourth straight Olympic appearance. He was complimentary of McPhail in a tweet about his performance following his match.
“Really happy for Mike McPhail for shooting a great match, winning the big trophy and also qualifying for the Olympic Team,” he said via his Twitter account. “What a great season! I shot a really nice qualification of 629.2, a raw 600, then finished 7th in the final. I felt pretty good mentally in the final, but I was battling a pulse coming from my sling that I couldn’t control. With Mike winning and I finishing 7th, I didn’t make it through our automatic Olympic selection for prone, so my next big goal for that discipline will be our Olympic Trials in April of next year.”
In earning his second Olympic nomination after a ninth-place finish at the Olympic Games in London, McPhail finished in spectacular fashion and cemented his hold on the world’s top ranked prone rifle specialist. He took command of the event final during his second three-shot series but would lose his grip on the top spot with just two shots remaining after he shot a 9.7 and 9.6 (out of a high 10.9 scale) on successive shots. That would allow Russia’s Kirill Grigoryan to move into the lead by three-tenths of a point. McPhail’s 10.7 to Grigoryan’s 10.5 on the penultimate shot would put him within .1 point of retaking the lead. McPhail shot first on the last shot, recording a 10.6 – a strong conclusion for sure and verified as much when the monitors flashed a 9.6 fired by his opponent.
McPhail celebrated his eventual one-point triumph with an exuberant fist pump, a big smile and plenty of relief.
“I am very happy with how the season turned out,” McPhail said afterwards. “In the past years, I have shot both the Three-Position and Prone events, and it takes so much time to train in a proper way. This season, I just shot Prone, and it’s much easier.”
“I am going to take a month off now,” the champ added in discussing what the future holds now that he’s assured a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team. “We have a son who is due at the end of October, my second one and I am very excited.”
McPhail’s World Cup Finals globe trophy follows two previous World Cup victories in 2015, having topped the podium at World Cup USA in Fort Benning, Georgia and World Cup Munich (Germany).
Following McPhail and Grigoryan, Croatia’s Bojan Durkovic pocketed today’s bronze medal, leaving Australia’s 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Warren Potent (53) in fourth place with 165.7 points.
To watch the entire Men’s Prone Rifle from Thursday, click here. Editorial assistance provided by the ISSF. All Olympic Team nominations are subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee.
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About USA Shooting:
USA Shooting, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, was chartered by the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport of shooting in April 1995. USA Shooting’s mission is to prepare American athletes to win Olympic medals, promote the shooting sports throughout the U.S. and govern the conduct of international shooting in the country.