When can a silver medal be as sweet a triumph as winning? Well, in Janessa Beaman’s case, there may be no more a significant and hard-fought medal in her growing trophy case than today’s second-place finish at the World Cup Finals (WCF) in Gabala, Azerbaijan.
The venture just to get to Azerbaijan was likely far more difficult than facing 12 of the world’s best trap shooters. Reminiscent of the 80s hit film Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Beaman was beset by one travel problem after another in reaching Azerbaijan to compete in her first World Cup Final. First, it was itinerary confusion causing her to leave a day later than expected. She then missed a connecting flight and endured an airline strike and eight-hour layover in Germany before arriving in Baku, Azerbaijan, at 9:10 pm Wednesday, the day before her match, with no luggage and a five-hour bus ride still ahead of her before arriving at her final destination. At 4:00 am on the day of her match, she finally got to take a brief nap before her competition.
Inscribed on her trusty Krieghoff are the words Talent, Discipline and Determination. All three she’d need to muster during Thursday’s competition merely to survive. She not only survived, but thrived in conditions that would have beset a lesser competitor. But there she was hours after arriving in country competing for gold against the world’s best.
With her every step of the way on her grueling trek was her biggest fan and cheerleader, father Jay. Like usual, his steady, consistent words of encouragement during the trip, helped keep Janessa grounded and focused while also reminding her that behind every obstacle is opportunity. In a series of text he sent to Janessa, he said: “If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worthy.” Followed by, “This is when you prove what kind of fighter you are.” And finally, “Many times you win simply because you have more heart and will yourself to do it. This is no different.”
More prophetic words from a father to a daughter have not been spoken, because Janessa took that advice, on no sleep and no pre-event training, and ran with it during competition Thursday.
For the first time in women’s trap World Cup Finals history, a USA Shooting Team member added her name to the medals winners, as Janessa went into overtime in the gold-medal match before finally settling for the silver medal.
She’d earn a trip to the semifinals by virtue of her 73/75 qualifying score to tie with three other competitors. She earned the spot in the gold-medal final by beating five other finalists in 15-shot semifinal by connecting with 14 targets. She’d again shoot a 14 to tie with Slovakian competitor Zuzana Stefecekova, the reigning two-time Olympic silver medalist and current No. 4-ranked women’s trap shooter in the world. Stefecekova would earn gold after Beaman couldn’t connect on her first target of the shoot-off.
Her World Cup silver helps punctuate an already breakout season for the 23-year-old Colorado Springs native. She participated in six international competitions, earning silver medals in four of them. Her accomplishments in international bunker trap didn’t limit her from realizing success in American trap either. At the Grand American, the world series of trap shooting, she also took home a truckload of honors, medals and recognitions including first-place performances in Ladies International, Rio Doubles, NRA Singles and Sterling Glass Singles while being named to the First-Team ATA All-American Team.
Fifteen USA Shooting athletes qualified for the WCF based upon their 2014 performances, with seven declining the opportunity. The seven other athletes 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), Josh Richmond (Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania), Glenn Eller (Houston, Texas), and Jeff Holguin (Yorba Linda, California).
Milev and Sanderson also got started in their Rapid Fire Pistol competition with Stage 1 of 2. Milev is in a three-way tie in ninth place, four points behind leader Christian Reitz of Germany. Sanderson struggled during his third and final string Thursday to fall well off the pace and currently sits 12th. They’ll conclude competition on Friday.
The remaining WCF schedule for the USA Shooting Team members participating includes Double Trap competition on Saturday followed by Women’s 3P Rifle and Women’s Skeet on Sunday.
Image courtesy USA Shooting