The pomp and circumstance leading up to the 2014 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship is finally over. Monday marks the beginning of the 12-day event featuring over 2,000 athletes from 94 countries.
Getting things started is competition in Men’s Air Rifle where the first six Olympic quotas in shooting will be handed out to the top-six finishers. Looking to be among those is USA Shooting’s three-man open team of Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Kentucky), Dempster Christenson (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) and Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska).
The task will be immense with eight of the world top-10 competing including Olympic silver medalist and reigning World Champion Nico Campriani. Quota possibility is tangible for the U.S. athletes involved. Christenson earned a World Cup silver medal in 2013 during the USA World Cup stop in Fort Benning, Georgia. Last year in Granada, Davis earned a position in the finals and finished eighth overall. Anderson is the current National Champion in the event while Davis was the 2013 National Champion, 2014 runner-up and is the reigning 2014 NCAA National Champion.
“Considering I really didn’t know about international shooting until four years ago, I am extremely grateful and humbled by the fact that I have been given the opportunity to represent the United States at this year’s Worlds,” said Davis leading up to World Champs. “It is a dream come true and another step towards Rio and the Olympic Games, which is always the main goal. I am honored to be apart Team USA and I am looking forward to representing them well.”
“I am very excited to represent the U.S. in two of the three open men’s rifle events at what will be my biggest competition to date,” Anderson said when asked about the opportunity. “The stakes are high and the pressure is on, but I have been preparing for it diligently and am ready for what’s in store.”
The event dates back to 1966 and during that time five Americans have medaled including one of the U.S. team coaches, Jason Parker, who earned America’s only gold medal in the event back in 2002 in Lahti, Finland. USA Shooting Hall-of-Famer Lanny Bassham was a World Champs silver medalist in 1974.
Competition begins at 9 a.m. with Relay 1 featuring Anderson and Christenson followed by Relay 2 at 11 a.m. with Davis. Finals are set for 1:30 p.m. **PLEASE NOTE: All listed times are local time in Granada, which is six hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone in the U.S.
Other competition set for Monday includes elimination events in Men’s 50m Free Pistol featuring James Henderson (USAMU/Midland, Georgia), John Zurek (Phoenix, Arizona), and three-time Olympian Jason Turner (Rochester, New York). The last U.S. medal in this discipline, which many consider the most difficult of all 15 Olympic events, was in 1958. Elimination takes place Monday with a certain number of highest scores moving into Tuesday’s qualification. The top-four finishers in Tuesday’s final earn a quota spot for their country. Elimination begins at 9 a.m.
Both the Men and Junior Men’s Trap competition gets underway as well with U.S. stars Ryan Hadden (USAMU/Pendleton, Oregon), Seth Inman (USAMU/Independence, Missouri), and Jake Wallace (Castaic, California) getting underway in the open division. Austin Odom (USAMU/Benton, Arkansas), Garrett Beissner (Hondon, Texas) and Ryne Barfield (Poulan, Georgia) set to compete in the junior competition. Trap is a three-day event. Trap is spread out over three days and competitors will see 125 total targets. The event will feature the top-10 ranked competitors in the world including Spain’s own Alberto Fernandez, the 2010 World Champion and Italian Massimo Fabbrizi, the 2011 World Champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist. Medal winners in the open division will earn an Olympic quota for their country. Both events will shoot two rounds (50 targets) Monday and Tuesday followed on Wednesday with the final 25 targets plus final.
“I am very proud and excited to be representing my country in the upcoming ISSF World Championships,” said Inman. “I logged thousands of hours of training for this moment to be on the biggest shooting stage in the world. It has been a very busy year for me shooting and there have been some trials and tribulations along the way, but I am ready and confident that I will have a successful Worlds.”
The ISSF announced Thursday that all event finals will be broadcast live via the internet at the following address: www.issf-sports.org.
Image courtesy USA Shooting