In what should go down as one of the most tightly contested rifle competitions in Olympic Trials history, Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Wash.) came back from despair to grab her spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team for Shooting. At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Fort Benning, Ga., Furrer earned her Olympic nomination while Sergeant First Class Keith Sanderson(WCAP/Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Emil Milev (Temple Terrace , Fla.) secured their Olympic status in far less dramatic fashion.
Having built a 3.2 yesterday over her nearest
competitor the past two days, Furrer increased that lead to 7.1 after the first position (standing) of today’s qualifying match. Sailing along at that point, Furrer had her toughest round of the competition shooting a 187 in the standing portion which left the window open for Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.) after she shot an outstanding 196 to grab the lead back from Furrer.
“I completely thought I was out of it at that point,” said Furrer. “I went outside and fought back the tears and I talked to my dad and he told me to hang in there and he calmed me down a little bit. I just decided right there that I was not going to give up and I just was not going to let it end like that.”
Fight back she did after posting an incredible 196 to Scherer’s 192 in the kneeling position to take a slim 2.1 point lead heading into the day’s final. Unseating Furrer at that point would have taken a 101.8 final from Scherer, something she would be unable to muster after shooting a 7.9 on shot six of the 10 shot final.
Despite the result, Scherer was still satisfied with her performance, boosted no doubt by the fact that she’ll also be an Olympian alongside Furrer after qualifying for the Team in Air Rifle. “I’m very satisfied with my performance,” said Scherer. “I worked really hard at this match and I’m very happy with my scores. I’m really excited for Amanda because I know she’s going to be able to put up a good fight in London.”
Scherer’s Texas Christian University teammateSarah Beard (Danville, Ind.) finished fourth overall with 1950 points. U.S. Olympic Training Center Resident Athlete Amy Sowash(Richmond, Ky.) was in fifth with 1948.9 followed by 2008 Olympian Sandy Fong (New York, N.Y.) at 1945.9. University of Kentucky’sEmily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.) shot 1942.4 points for seventh place.
In Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol, Sanderson shot a new national match record and tied the world match record of 591 points. Sanderson finished with 1781 total points and earned a nomination to his second U.S. Olympic Team.
“I shot okay, but not as good as I wanted to-I was hoping for one point higher, but I’m not complaining. I don’t want to be satisfied with it, I want to be hungry when I go into the Olympic Games and do better. I’m really happy with the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program and the support they have given me and my wife’s support-I wouldn’t be here without it.”
Sanderson will be joined by four-time Olympian Milev, who will enter the Olympic stadium proudly wearing the red, white and blue. Milev claimed the second Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol nomination today with 1768 points. Milev, born and raised in Bulgaria, won the silver medal in 1996 in Atlanta and fell in love with America. Seven years later, he moved his family to Florida in search of a better life, but was unsure of his shooting plans for the future.
“I was thinking after 2007, I will stop [shooting] and this will be it-I was heading in another direction, teaching,” said Milev. “But I like shooting and I kept coming to Nationals and kept practicing from time to time and slowly my results improved and it all just happened. I want to thank National Pistol Coach Sergey Luzov because he believed in me even when I wasn’t sure that I could do it. I’d also like to recognize Assistant National Pistol Coach Vladimir Chichkov, he is the one who pushed me from the beginning and encouraged me; my family-they certainly suffer the most because I’m not home but give me love and support; and the people at USA Shooting who have accepted me as one of you [American]-I don’t feel foreign anymore.”
The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s (USAMU) Sergeant Brad Balsley (Uniontown, Pa.) finished third overall with 1739 points. He was followed by USAMU teammate Specialist Sean Ragay (Columbus, Ga.) at 1737. John Bickar (Tucson, Ariz.) was fifth with 1732 points and Specialist Seth Berglee(USAMU/Columbus, Ga.) shot 1732 for sixth.
In Men’s 10m Air Rifle National Championship competition, Bryant Wallizer (Little Orleans, Md.) won the gold medal with 1291 points earning a spot on the National Rifle Team. 2012 U.S. Olympic Team nominee Jonathan Hall (Carrollton, Ga.) won the silver medal with 1288.7 points and Thomas Csenge (Colorado Springs, Colo.) won the bronze with 1286.9 points.
Recent 2012 U.S. Olympic Team nominee Petty Officer First Class Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Ala.) was the gold medalist in Women’s 10m Air Pistol. Riding the high from her Women’s 25m Sport Pistol victory, Uptagrafft shot 861.2. U.S. Olympic Training Center Resident Athlete Teresa Meyer(Dearborn, Mich.) shot 858.7 points for the silver medal and Courtney Anthony (Lexington, Neb.) shot 854.3 points for the bronze. All three earned spots on the National Pistol Team.
Through eight days of competition at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore, six Olympians have been added to the team including Nick Mowrer (Butte, Mont.) in Men’s 50-meter Free Pistol,Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Ala.) in Women’s 25m Pistol and Michael McPhail(USAMU/Darlington, Wis.) in Men’s 50m Prone Rifle. One Olympic spot in Men’s Three-Position Rifle still remains before the 20-member 2012 U.S. Olympic Team for Shooting is complete. That event will start the first of their three-day competition on Saturday and the eventual Olympic nominee will be named on Monday.
photos: USA Shooting