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Army Shooter DeWitt 1996 Top Woman Athlete

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 1996 – Theresa DeWitt knows her teammates always keep an eye on her shooting, looking for any movement or technique fault that would affect her firing form. Those watchful eyes and DeWitt's dedication to her sport almost earned her an Olympic medal.

DeWitt, a 32-year-old Army military police sergeant from Cincinnati, shot her way to a fourth place finish in the women's Olympic double trap competition last summer. Her prowess with a shotgun earned her the highest finish of any active duty U.S. military athlete in the Atlanta Olympics. That accomplishment earned her the 1996 armed forces female athlete of the year award.

 

DeWitt receives the annual award here Jan. 24 from DoD officials. "With all that has happened to me -- the competitions, the Olympics, everything -- it's just been a remarkable year," she said.

 

Entering the Olympics, DeWitt, a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga., was moving toward medal contention. She captured silver medals at the 1996 North American shooting championships and the 1996 World Cup championship. She was hoping to carry some of that edge to Atlanta.

 

Yet the momentum she built before the games faded during Olympic competition. Although tied for third place entering the final stage, DeWitt hit only 80 percent of her final round targets, dropping to fourth as teammate Kim Rhode captured the Olympic gold medal. DeWitt hit 137 of 160 targets, finishing four points off Rhode's total and two points from the medal stand.

 

Those two points drive DeWitt toward her next goal -- earning a slot for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. "We haven't even started the 1997 shooting season and I'm ready to get started now," said DeWitt. "I've had a taste of what this competition is all about, and I'll be doing all I can to get to Sydney and represent my country again."

 

She said she knows she'll have competition over the next four years, as new faces travel into Fort Benning, but she welcomes the challenge. "Competition helps you keep an edge on your skill, so the more competition we have here, the better we'll be when we go out and compete."

 

DeWitt added part of being an NCO is teaching what you have learned as an NCO to your soldiers. "It's no different here than anywhere else," she said. "We all watch each other and help each other out because this is a team and teammates help each other."

 

Others nominated as DoD's top woman athlete were Navy Lt. Barbara Kannewurf of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Richmond, Va., and Senior Airman Deena Wigger, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.

 

The services also nominated Marine Corps Sgt. Danielle Dillard of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Lt. Amy Baribeau of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, Puget Sound, Wash.

 

Kannewurf, a long-distance runner, captured the 1,500-meter gold medal at the 1996 armed forces track and field championships last summer in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was the highest U.S. finisher (12th) at the 1996 Conseil International du Sport Militaire cross country championships in March and finished 16th at the Chicago Marathon in October.

 

Wigger is a shooter who concentrates in air rifle competition. Her hopes for an Olympic berth fell two spots short as she finished fifth at the U.S. trials last April. Wigger later traveled to Skovde, Sweden, to compete at the 1996 CISM shooting competition, helping the U.S. military to a sixth-place finish.

 

Dillard earned the Marine Corps' top female athlete award in volleyball. She earned all-tournament honors at the Camp Pendleton base competition, the 1996 All-Marine Corps championships and this year's armed forces tournament at Memphis Naval Air Station, Tenn.

 

Baribeau, a triathlete, competed in 12 competitions between May and October. She won three triathlons in 1996, then disqualified herself from one title when she inadvertantly missed a turn on the bicycle course. In returning her award, she drew praise from both race officials for her honesty.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Sgt. Theresa DeWitt of Fort Benning, Ga., is DoD's 1996 female athlete of the year. DeWitt, a shooter with the Army Marksmanship Unit, finished fourth in women's double trap shooting at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.  
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