An action-packed 2014 is nearly complete, at least internationally, for the Olympic shooting sports. Seven USA Shooting Team athletes, including four Olympians, are set to compete in the sport’s grand showcase, the World Cup Finals (WCF), beginning Thursday in Gabala, Azerbaijan.
This yearly event typically concludes the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup calendar and brings together the world’s best shooting competitors. The event features medalists from this year’s World Championships as well as World Cup winners and top performers.
Fifteen USA Shooting athletes qualified for the event based upon their 2014 performances, with seven declining the opportunity. The eight athletes that are participating include: Rapid Fire Pistol shooters Emil Milev (Temple Terrace, Florida) and Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs); rifle shooter Amy Sowash (Richmond, Kentucky); and shotgun athletes Haley Dunn (Eddyville, Iowa), Janessa Beaman (Colorado Springs) along with U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Double Trap specialists Josh Richmond (Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania), Glenn Eller (Houston, Texas), and Jeff Holguin (Yorba Linda, California).
Those declining their invitation to participate included Olympians Kim Rhode (El Monte, California), Matt Emmons (Brown Mills, New Jersey), Nick Mowrer (Butte, Montana) and Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Massachusetts). Also not participating is World Champion Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas) and her fellow World Champ teammates Dustin Perry (Lovelady, Texas) and Tori Burch (Kerrville, Texas).
The four-time Olympian Milev hasn’t performed up to his own expectation level in 2014 but earned his invite by virtue of winning the 2013 World Cup Finals. Sanderson was a finalist in three World Cups on the season including a win at World Cup USA in Ft. Benning, Ga.
In Rifle, Sowash qualified as a result of a fourth-place finish at World Cup USA. Teammate Scherer also earned her spot there as well with a bronze-medal but the same back injury that caused her to miss World Championships and the Championship of the Americas will also force her withdrawal in Azerbaijan as well.
The success of the USA Shooting’s shotgun program in 2014 is bolstered by the fact that nine athletes were invited to World Cup Finals. Headlining the team will be current World Champion Richmond. He’s competed at WCF each of the last two years having won the event in 2012 following the Olympic Games. Along with a world title in 2014, Richmond also earned two World Cup silver medals. At his side will be two equally imposing figures in the Double Trap ranks, Glenn Eller and Jeff Holguin. The four-time Olympian Eller will be making his sixth appearance in a WCF and finished second last year. He got here by virtue of a silver medal in the Munich World Cup earlier this year. Holguin will compete in his fifth WCF, but first since 2010 after winning his first World Cup in Tucson, Arizona, to begin the year. He’d later score a bronze medal at the Munich World Cup as well.
Also competing in Shotgun is trap shooter Beaman who has enjoyed a break-out season after winning her first World Cup medal (silver) at the Munich World Cup. She’d follow that with a silver medal at the Spain Grand Prix and silver medal last week at the Championship of the Americas. Dunn is representing the ultra-successful U.S. Women’s Skeet program that has dominated competition worldwide in 2014. Dunn herself, now competing in her sixth WCF, earned a bronze medal in Munich, and scored a silver medal at the Spain Grand Prix and the Championship of the Americas.
WCF Schedule for USA Shooting Team Members:
Thursday, October 23 // Women’s Trap (Beaman)
Friday, October 24 // Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol – Stage 1 (Milev/Sanderson)
Saturday, October 25 // Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol – Stage 2 (Milev/Sanderson); Double Trap (Richmond, Eller & Holguin)
Sunday, October 26 // Women’s 3P Rifle (Sowash); Women’s Skeet (Dunn)
For the WCF Schedule and results, click here: http://www.issf-sports.org/competitions/venue/schedule.ashx?cshipid=1517
Image courtesy USA Shooting