The end of a grueling Olympic year is in sight for USA Shooting’s Eric Uptagrafft (USAMU/Phenix City, Ala.) and Jason Parker (USAMU/Omaha, Neb.), but not before one final event in Bangkok, Thailand, as they are ready to compete in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Finals, October 24-27.
Starting from the London Prepares World Cup in April and then passing through Milan and Munich, this year’s ISSF World Cup Series comes to an end in Bangkok, a city that has already hosted several ISSF events in the past. Only the sport’s top performers are invited to compete in the World Cup Finals and 90 shooters coming from 34 countries are set to head to the firing lines including 2012 Olympic champions, Olympic medalists, 2012 World Cup title defenders and the best athletes selected throughout this year’s ISSF World Cup Series.
“We are at the end of a long and successful Olympic year,” said ISSF Secretary General Franz Schreiber while addressing participants during his welcome speech earlier today. “And I would like to tell the participants: be proud to be here! Only the best of the best athletes were invited to participate in this event, and you – our dear athletes – do represent the top class in our sport.”
Three additional USA Shooting athletes were invited but declined to participate including Olympic gold medalist Jamie Gray (Lebanon, Pa.), bronze medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, N.J.) and Olympian Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wis.).
Beginning Wednesday, athletes will compete in the 10 Olympic Rifle & Pistol events, trying to secure the ISSF Cups in the last match of the year. The first medal matches will be determined in Men’s 50m Rifle Prone, Women’s 25m Pistol and the Men’s 50m Pistol events.
The two-time Olympian Uptagrafft will be competing in the fourth World Cup Final of his career. Stepping onto the Olympic stage for the first time in 16 years, Uptagrafft started slow in the Prone event and dropped four big points in the first two strings (twenty shots) before connecting for perfect 10s on 38 of his last 40 shots. Finishing with a 594 overall, Uptagrafft would finish one point off the pace to join the field of the nine shoot-off competitors.
Among those competing alongside the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Sergeant First Class Uptagrafft will be 2012 Olympic silver medalist Lionel Cox of Belgium along with bronze medalist Rajmond Debevec of Slovenia.
Currently ranked ninth in the world in Men’s 50-meter Three-Position Rifle, Parker finished in 30th place in London after posting a 1,159 in the qualifying round. The four-time Olympian won the Milan World Cup earlier this season and is no stranger to the World Cup Finals having competed six other times throughout his career.
Battling Sergeant First Class Parker for the Cup will be Olympic silver medalist Jonghyun Kim of South Korea as well as seventh-place finisher Kristian Ole Bryhn of Norway.
Check out who qualified for the event at:
Follow the competition on www.issf-sports.org
Image courtesy USA Shooting