Sergeant First Class Jason Parker(USAMU/Omaha, Neb.) didn’t let a torrential downpour deter him from his Olympic dreams. Parker delivered world-class results to earn a nomination to his fourth U.S. Olympic Team in today’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position from Fort Benning, Ga.
With Parker’s results, 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team selection is now complete for USA Shooting with 22 members set to represent the U.S. in London. The roster of shooting sports specialists includes six pistol shooters, eight riflemen and woman, six shotgun shooters and two Paralympians. All together, the 20-person Olympic team will be formidable having competed in 25 Olympic Games overall while garnering 11 Olympic medals previously including five gold.
Also, with geographic footprints that include Hawaii, Alaska, Belarus and Singapore, this team is truly one that spans the globe with athletes having spent significant amounts of time in 19 different states.
As has traditionally been the case, the makeup of this team will have a distinct military flavor with nine Olympians and two Paralympians either currently serving or having previously served in the U.S. military. Seven of those athletes hail from the U.S. Army’s Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning, Ga.
To visit the Olympic/Paralympic pages of the USA Shooting website, click here.
Heavy rains and target malfunctions delayed the match for nearly three hours. Ultimately, the match administrators were forced to cancel the last day of the match for Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position (with the exception of the nine athletes in contention for the Olympic spot). Due to previous performances and appearances in the final, Parker, Specialist Joseph Hall (USAMU/Carrollton, Ga.),Matt Wallace (Fairbanks, Alaska), Sergeant Joseph Hein (USAMU/Mason, Mich.), Tom Csenge(Colorado Springs, Colo.), Dempster Christenson (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Sergeant George Norton(USAMU/Columbus, Ga.) and Michael Matthews (Johns Creek, Ga.) shot a reduced course of fire-three positions, 20 shots in lieu of 40 shots to determine the top-8 finalists.
Parker, who held a nearly 13 point lead on the competition, was untouchable with 583 match points and 101.6 points in the final. “Today was very difficult as the targets went down because of rain and lightning, then we had a three hour delay and a different course of fire,” said Parker. “All those things added up and each had their own unique strategy to deal with them. I had some food on the range to stay fueled and water to stay hydrated.” Parker finished with 3124.1 total points to earn another opportunity to represent his country on the Olympic stage.
“Thanks to my wife Andrea, my boys Tommy and Wyatt for being there and supporting me on the range the past few days and for several years,” began a very grateful Parker. “My parents Dale and Sharon Parker, without them none of this would have ever happened. I’d also like to acknowledge the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit for all the things they have provided so we can compete and do well here and represent our country in the Olympics and USA Shooting for all the support they have given me.”
Hall finished second overall with 3109 points and Wallace was in third with 3105.7 points. Parker, Hall and Wallace also all earned positions on the USA Shooting National Rifle Team as a result of their top performances. Hein shot 3104.8 total points for fifth and was followed by Csenge (3101.7), Christenson (3093.7), Norton (3091.6), Matthews (3089) and Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.) with 3087.9 points. Additionally, Spurgeon and Matthews earned spots on the National Junior Team as the top two junior shooters.
“We selected a great team and saw many world-class performances from both the younger athletes and the veterans,” said National Rifle Coach Major Dave Johnson. “Both the current Olympic team is strong and the future Olympic prospects are exciting.”
In Women’s 10m Air Rifle, 2012 U.S. Olympic Team nominees Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.) andJamie Gray (Lebanon, Pa.) packed a one-two punch for the gold and silver. Scherer started out with 398 match points on day one and followed it up with near perfection at 399. Gray shot 397 and 398 to enter the final two points behind Scherer but gained ground with the highest final of 103.8 points. Scherer kept her lead with 102.2 points for 899.2 points overall to Gray’s 898.8. U.S. Olympic Training Center Resident Athlete Amy Sowash (Richmond, Ky.) won the bronze medal with 888.5 points. All three athletes (Scherer, Gray and Sowash) earned spots on the National Rifle Team. Joining them on the National Junior Team are Kelsey Emme (Piedmont, S.D.) and Haylea Broughton (Tulsa, Okla.) who earned top honors in the junior category with gold and silver respectively. The junior bronze medalist was Catherine Green (Coventry, R.I.).
In Men’s Standard Pistol, a non-Olympic event, the podium was laden with USAMU gold and black. Specialist Greg Markowski (USAMU/Columbus, Ga.) won the gold medal with 1145 points, Sergeant First Class Thomas Rose (USAMU/Columbus, Ga.) took the silver medal with 1132 points and Specialist Sean Ragay (USAMU/Columbus, Ga.) finished with 1121 points for the bronze medal.
The Men’s Centerfire Pistol match also wrapped up today with a new National Champion. SergeantBrad Balsley (USAMU/Uniontown, Pa.) finished in first with 1160 points. John Bickar (Tucson, Ariz.) was second with 1159 points and Rose finished third at 1158.
Alexander Chichkov (Temple Terrace, Fla.), son of Assistant National Pistol Coach Vladimir Chichkov, won the Junior Men’s Sport Pistol event. Chichkov shot 1132 points for a six-point advantage over the competition. Calvin Li (Great Falls, Va.) won the silver medal at 1132 and Nathan Switzer(Newport News, Va.) won the bronze with 1099 points.
For complete results and rankings, please visit the Match Information page.
Image courtesy USA Shooting