All the glory, the accolades, the hype and the magazine cover shoot, those are nice. But to really distinguish yourself in sport, there are days you just have to show up to work and prove that your one of the best. Josh Richmond and Ian Rupert did that again Sunday at the 2014 World Shooting Championships.
Richmond won a gold medal in Double Trap while Rupert finished as the silver medalist among all juniors highlighting a breakout day for the USA Shooting Team with five medals and a Junior Women’s Air Rifle finalist.
Connecting on his last 106 targets, Richmond (Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania) became World Champion for the third time, repeating the title he won in 2010 and earning the USA Shooting Team’s first Olympic quota spot in the process. He won a Junior World title back in 2005.
To even have a chance to medal or earn a quota, Richmond had to fight hard on his final round, which he made look easy despite tough, breezy, late afternoon conditions.
The medal, the quota, the 106-bird perfection to win all seemed implausible entering the competition. Him, nor his teammates , were confident he’d be anywhere close to the top of the leaderboard by day’s end given how bad he had performed in preparation for these World Championships.
“I told the coaches (Todd Graves and Dwayne Weger) that I was stumbling,” he admitted afterward. “I had two months where I couldn’t find anything and nothing worked. I was putting maximum rounds down range but was really disappointed with my shooting. I had no confidence.”
But he discovered something during an early practice round in Granada when no bird came out of the bunker on one of his calls. He felt it instantly. “I was pushing the gun really bad and Todd and I both looked at each other and decided that we were going to let the targets come up and then chase after them. As complex of a game as this is, that’s the only thing I needed to switch.”
The switch ensured that someone from the World’s foremost Double Trap team of Richmond, Glenn Eller (Houston, Texas) and Jeff Holguin (Yorba Linda, California) had a seat in the finals yet again, something that has happened at all 12 World Championships since 1999. Since 2007, one of them has earned a medal in each of the six World Championships.
Richmond passed through the semifinal with a perfect score of 30 hits out of 30 targets, and then defeated Antonino Barillà of Italy in the gold-medal match by shooting another perfect round, with 30 hits to Barillà’s 29.
“It’s amazing to be back on top. The first one that I won was big: a great venue, crowded with people, with a quota spot on the line. The World Championship is always a great match with everybody out there looking for a quota, and it’s tough,” said Richmond.
With two athletes in the final, the Italian team secured the team gold medal with an equaled world record of 424 hits. That was two targets more than what was scored by the three Americans. Holguin finished ninth with 140/150 targets hit, just two shy of putting him in contention for a finals spot. Eller shot himself out of it early with 10 targets missed in his first three rounds. He’d miss just one over his next two to fight back into it but would have to settle for a 139 and a 12th-place finish. China earned the bronze.
The win earned Richmond a nice payday as he’ll receive a check for $13,000 for his performance. The U.S. Olympic Committee will reward him with $5,000 as part of their Operation Gold funding. USA Shooting performance incentives includes $5,000 for earning an Olympic quota and an additional $3,000 for earning the gold medal.
Ian Rupert, 2014 Jr. World Champs Silver Medalist
After seeing his teammate earn gold, Rupert was hard-pressed to make sure it was the true daily double double. Qualifying in second place, he survived a five-person shoot-off following the semifinal round to advance to the gold medal. But Italian Adrian Vescovi spoiled Rupert’s victory party by hitting 29 targets to Rupert’s 28. Still, the performance once again proved that Rupert is here to stay in this event for years to come and the future is in good hands.
Rupert’s performance helped push the U.S. Junior team that also included Chris Wilkoski (Centerburg, Ohio) and Dale Royer (Jackson, Montana) to a bronze medal. Royer finished 10th with a score of 128, six targets out of qualifying in the top-six. Wilkoski was 13th with a 126.
Rupert will earn $1,500 from USA Shooting for his performance.
Rifle Team Silver
Let the record reflect that the Men’s 300-meter Prone Rifle Team of Eric Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Alabama), Joe Hein (Mason, Michigan) and Michael McPhail (Darlington, Wisconsin) were the three men responsible for breaking the run of bad luck the USA Shooting Team had been on going the first six days of these Championships without a medal. That changed with the team silver medal they earned today while each shot their elimination round. This U.S. Army Marksmanship trio will aim for more hardware Monday in the individual qualification match.
Miles Mingles into Junior Air Rifle Final
Junior Air Rifle shooter Mindy Miles (Weatherford, Texas) actually got things started for USA Shooting early this morning with a performance that landed her into the final. The freshman athlete enrolled at Texas Christian University and part of their all-women’s rifle team, qualified third with a score of 417.4. She struggled to get sighted in before being the first person out of eight qualifiers to be eliminated despite a high 10.7 on her final shot. Still, for Miles, even being a part of the Finals should prove to be a great learning experience in the future as she was able to feel the energy and difference of shooting in a big-time international final for the first time.
Also competing in the event for the U.S. was Sonya May (Rockland, Massachusetts) who finished 21st with a score of 412.5 as well as Dacotah Faught (Amenia, North Dakota), who was 59th with a score of 405.5.
Other Results . . .
Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Results: Brad Balsley, 16th-577; Keith Sanderson, 18th-577; EmilMilev, 26th-572. Jr. Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Results: Alex Chichkov, 8th-568; Brian Kim, 19th-551; Tony Chung, 26th-532. Jr. Men’s 10m Air Rifle: Michael Steinel, 37th-615.2; Tim Sherry, 39th-615.0; Garrett Spurgeon, 46th-613.4.
Image courtesy USA Shooting