The last pistol event of the 2012 Olympic Games featured a glimpse of a promising young career and the likely end of another for Team USA as 38 competitors competed in the 50-meter Free Pistol event Sunday, the sports longest running and arguably most difficult event.
On the penultimate day of Shooting competition at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Nick Mowrer (Butte, Mont.) came up just short in his first Olympic competition while four-time Olympian Daryl Szarenski (WCAP/Seale, Ala.) walked off the range disappointed after a 28th place finish and will literally sail away and put an end to his competitive shooting career.
Mowrer shot a 558/600 and missed a shoot-off for the last of the eight final positions by one point for 15th overall position. Mowrer was consistent in all but one string (10 shots) averaging a 93 over the six strings. However, a third string 90 likely undid any finals hopes for Mowrer despite ending his London Games with a final 95.
“I think I went out there and tried my best and gave it my all,” Mowrer said. “Today, sadly, my all wasn’t quite good enough. I felt like I fought hard all day. It kept getting better and better but it didn’t get better and better fast enough.”
Szarenski shot a 550 and finished in 28th place. In contention through his first three strings, the Army Sergeant First Class had his qualification fall apart during shots 31-50 where he shot 177/200 including a couple ill-placed 7s.
“I was a little bit too careful today,” said Szarenski. “It basically comes down to I didn’t shoot enough tens. Getting to the Olympics is a journey. It was fun. I worked really hard for this one and I had much higher expectations. It didn’t work out.”
A member of the USA Shooting National Team since 1993, Szarenski’s career ended on a positive note when he shot a last string 95. Still, when asked what’s next, the avid sailor was quick to reply: “I’m going sailing and I’m retiring from the military. This is it.”
Just one event, the Men’s Three-Position Rifle, remains in the shooting competition at the 2012 Olympic Games. Team USA’s Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, N.J.) and Jason Parker (Omaha, Neb.) will be on the line trying to earn the team’s fourth medal of these Games.
Leading the charge is Emmons who has two Olympic medals overall and 20 World Cup medals in this his signature event but no Olympic medal to show for it after final shot heartbreaks in each of the last two Olympic Games. Armed with confidence, uncanny knowledge and an unprecedented work ethic, he has the tools necessary to reverse fate in London but only if the ailments and health issues that have plagued him since 2010 subside.
The four-time Olympian Parker comes into the event with perhaps his best medal chance as the world’s No. 3 ranked shooter. After giving up the air rifle after Beijing, Parker’s sole concentration on three-position has paid off and comes into London having won the season’s final World Cup in Munich.
Italian Niccolò “Nicco” Campriani, a 25-year old athlete from Florence, is the No. 1 ranked athlete in this event. The young Italian leads the world ranking after his great successes during the last Olympic cycle. Campriani – who left Italy to study and train at West Virginia University, has participated in the 13 World Cups, World Cup Finals and World Championship events since 2009, making it to 11 finals. And when Nicco competes in a medal match, he most certainly makes it to the podium, as numbers can confirm. Out of eleven 50m Rifle 3 Positions finals, Campriani won eight medals, including two gold. His best qualification result (1180 points) and his best final (101.1 points) speak for themselves.
Following Emmons and Nicco, a number of skilled shooters are looking forward to the London Games, and to a spot in the final. Among them, Korean ace Han Jinseop, who entered nine finals and finished four times on the podium between 2009 and 2012.
Slovenia’s Rajmond Debevec, an eight-time Olympian who started his series of successes in 1984, earned a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Format: In the qualification, shooters fire 40 shots each in prone, standing and kneeling positions. The highest scoring ring is 10.4mm in diameter at a distance of 50m. The time allowed is 45 minutes for prone, 75 minutes for standing and 60 minutes for kneeling. The finals consist of 10 shots from the standing position within a time limit of 75 seconds per shot.
Image courtesy USA Shooting