Stellar Eller: 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Earns Fifth Olympic Team Nomination

June 24, Columbus, GA, USA; Portraits of shotgun competition shooters for USA Shooting at Fort Benning. Photo by Kevin Liles/
June 24, Columbus, GA, USA; Portraits of shotgun competition shooters for USA Shooting at Fort Benning. Photo by Kevin Liles/
USA Shooting
USA Shooting

Colorado Springs, CO -( A late-season surge helped ensure 2008 Olympic gold medalist Glenn Eller a fifth-straight Olympic Team nomination in Double Trap.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) athlete confirmed as much Monday at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Shotgun World Championships in Lonato, Italy with two strong final qualification rounds and then surviving a shoot-off to advance to the event Finals.

Eller becomes the first American male in the Shotgun discipline to make five Olympic Teams in his career.

Eller earned the Olympic nomination through USA Shooting’s Olympic Points System, a standard set-up to recognize and reward significant individual achievement during the 2015 season. Six athletes in total earned their automatic Olympic nomination this way including: Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia), Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wisconsin), Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey) and Morgan Craft (Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania). The remaining 14 available Olympic nominations will be determined through the U.S. Olympic Team Trials set to begin in October for the shotgun disciplines and December for airgun.

After earning his Olympic spot, the Army Staff Sergeant would eventually finish sixth competing in his 12th World Championship. The lack of a double trap medal breaks up an impressive streak of six straight World Championships in which an American had been on the podium. Seeking a bigger prize, Eller knew he had to earn a spot in the Finals to seal another Olympic run. With that Olympic possibility looking distant after his first three rounds having dropped 10 targets, he’d turn it up during his final two rounds by dropping just one lone target in each. His mission was incomplete still until he was one of the two shooters to advance during a three-person shoot-off to advance to finals.

Eller’s Olympic return was boosted by an intense practice session that followed a disappointing finish at the Pan American Games in July. Not pleased with a Pan Am performance that saw him finish fourth, Eller put in even more training time than usual in lead-up to World Cup Gabala (Azerbaijan). His father, Butch, estimates he probably went through 6,000 targets during that intensive training spell with many days leading to exhaustion by days end. The pay-off included a win in Gabala, which catapulted Eller into position to secure an Olympic bid. His year also included a sixth-place finish at the Acapulco World Cup.

Earning a spot on his fifth Olympic Team helps add to Eller’s legacy as Olympic gold medalist, two-time World Champion, and 14-time World Cup medalist.

Eller’s USAMU teammate Derek Haldeman (Sunbury, Ohio) finished 34th overall after disappointing second and third rounds in which he dropped 13 of the 21 targets he would miss. Haldeman was in contention for an Olympic Team spot with a good performance in Lonato. He was five points behind Eller going in after third and fourth-place finishes during two earlier World Cups this season. Chris Wilkoski(Centerburg, Ohio) was 47th with a score of 126/150.

Two Bay State natives finished inside the top-20 in the Junior Doubles Trap event with Jesse Haynes-Lewis (Nahant, Massachusetts) finishing 17th followed by Hank Garvey (Newburyport, Massachusetts) finishing 19th. Dale Royer (Jackson, Montana) finished 22nd.

The World Championships will conclude with two days of Men’s Skeet competition featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist Hancock, 2015 Pan American Games champion TJ Bayer (College Station, Texas) and 2015 Pan American Games runner-up Dustin Perry (Lovelady, Texas).

The U.S. Team has earned eight medals thus far in Lonato highlighted by a six-medal performance in Women’s Skeet Sunday.

For full World Championship results, click here. All Olympic Team nominations are subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee.

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