Soldier Finishes 23rd in Olympic Air Pistol Event
By Tim Hipps
Army Installation Management Command
LONDON, Jul. 30, 2012 Four-time Olympian Army Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski knew right away that his game was not clicking in the Olympic 10-meter air pistol qualification round July 28 at the Royal Artillery Barracks here.
“I thought I was going to do a little better than that today, but it just wasn’t going my way,” said Szarenski, who finished 23rd and did not advance to the final round of competition. “About the second string, it just came apart and it was dropping 9s out there. It took me a little while to pick up that it just needed a little more follow-through on it.
“By the time I realized it,” he added, “it was a little bit too late.”
In layman’s terms, Szarenski’s shots were in the right ballpark -- he was just having trouble finding home plate.
“They weren’t really bad; they were 9s,” he explained, with 10s being perfect shots. “They weren’t like way out there. I wasn’t shanking them or anything. That’s why it was hard to pick up, because they were just barely out.
“I was like, ‘Well, they don’t look terrible,’” he continued. “That’s why it took me a little while to pick up on it. But I ended up with a 93 [on his second string of 10 shots], so there must have been seven of them out there.”
Translation: seven of Szarenski’s 10 shots in his second of six qualification series probably dropped him from medal contention on the Olympic level, where it takes near perfection for a shooter to land on the podium.
Qualification round world-record-holder Jongoh Jin of South Korea won the gold medal with a total score of 668.2 points. He scored 588 points in qualification and 100.2 in the final round. Jin won the silver medal in this event at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“Shooting means the art of one shot,” Jin said. “My secret of success is that I love shooting. I’m very happy because this is the first gold meal for Korea. Getting off to a good start is always very important. I hope my gold medal will be a spark to help Team Korea get the result.”
Italy’s Luca Tesconi took the silver medal with a 685.8 total, followed by bronze medalist Andrija Zlatic (685.2) of Serbia.
“I’m going to celebrate with my teammates tonight, but something not too loud because they are competing,” Tesconi said. “And after going home, celebrations will keep going for two or three months.”
Zlatic, who said he began shooting on a range at age 5, became the first male shooter to win an Olympic medal for Serbia.
“I learned how to shoot from my father and brother when I was a small boy,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to grow up and become a shooter.”
For the first time in the history of this event, China failed to win a medal, ending its medal streak at six.
Szarenski, 44, a native of Saginaw, Mich., who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., shot a 575 in qualification, and his day was done.
“We were adjusting the whole time, man,” Szarenski said with a chuckle. “It was like flying an airplane, we were constantly adjusting.”
This is Szarenski’s fourth Olympics, therefore it was not a matter of not knowing what to expect or nervousness on the shooting line.
“I felt relaxed,” he said. “I mean, it is the Olympics, so it’s a big match, but it felt like any other big match. I felt prepared. I was ready for it. I was ready to do something good.
“It wasn’t a terrible score,” Szarenski continued. “It wasn’t like trash, but yeah, it’s the Olympics – you’ve got to have a smoker. It took a 583 to get into the final and that’s a hard score. You had to have your ‘A’ game on. When the second string started falling apart, I didn’t pick it up fast enough. It was work all day. It was a fight, and I guess we lost.”
As quickly as his first event ended, Szarenski started focusing on his second and stronger Olympic event, the 50-meter free pistol, scheduled for Aug. 5.
“We’ll go home and feel sorry for ourselves today and kind of lick our wounds,” he said. “They shoot air gun tomorrow, so I can’t train tomorrow – kind of look back. It seems like a slow sport, but everything’s going so fast, mentally, that when you come off the line it’s like, ‘Hey, what went wrong?’ I don’t know. My mind was spinning.
“I’ll take it easy today and tomorrow, and then we’ll get back on it and go after it,” he added. “You look at the placing and it was 23rd, but on any given day I could have been right up on No. 1. Free pistol is actually my strong gun, so we’ll feel sorry today and tomorrow we’ll get back on it and go after it and try to win this thing.”