Marksmen's Final Scores Fall Short of Medals
By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service
ATHENS, Greece, Aug. 18, 2004 Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker watched his world record fall Aug. 16 while shooting to an eighth-place finish in the men's 10-meter air rifle event in the Summer Olympic Games.
China's Qinan Zhu won the gold medal with a final world record of 702.7 points, eclipsing Parker's world mark of 702.5 established at the 2003 Munich World Cup.
"The scores keep going up," Parker said. "It seems like a world record is set about every year or two. It just gives you another goal to shoot for. You just have to do it on the day that counts."
China's Jie Li won the silver medal with 701.3 points. Slovakia's Josef Gonci took the bronze medal with a 697.4 total at Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre.
Parker, a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga., quickly shot a perfect sixth series score of 100 points in the qualification round.
"I got in the final and didn't take advantage of it -- just shot a couple of bad shots," Parker said. "But the guy who won it shot a world record, so I would've had to been on it the whole match."
Parker overcame a tricky trigger that contributed to two costly 98-point series in his qualification round. He managed 99 or 100 points in his other four stanzas.
"I had a little technical problem with my rifle," explained Parker, 30, of Omaha, Neb. "The trigger wasn't functioning quite right, but I got it fixed."
He already is looking forward to the 2008 Beijing Games.
In other events at Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre, two other soldiers from the marksmanship unit failed to reach the finals of their events in the Games Aug. 17.
Three-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Bret Erickson, 43, of Bennington, Neb., finished in a two-way tie for 13th place in men's double trap shotgun shooting. He scored 130 points in three qualifying rounds. The cutoff to make the six- shooter final was 135 points.
Ahmed Almaktoum of United Arab Emirates won the gold medal by equaling the Olympic final record of 189 points. India's Rajyavardhan Rathore took the silver medal. China's Zheng Wang won the bronze medal.
Two-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski, 36, of Saginaw, Mich., finished in a three-way tie for 15th place in men's 50-meter pistol shooting. He finished the qualification round with 554 points. The cutoff to make the eight- shooter final was 562 points.
Russia's Mikhail Nestruev won the gold medal. Korea's Jong Oh Jin won the silver medal. Democratic People's Republic of Korea's Jong Su Kim took the bronze medal.
In earlier competition, Erickson finished 13th in Olympic men's trap shooting Aug. 14 through 15.
"I got a bad bird early in the first round," said Erickson, who was troubled by the wind. "It got up in the air and when I shot it jumped about six feet up. And when I went up after it to shoot with the second shot, it dropped about 10 feet.
Erickson entered the finals in third place but failed to close the deal.
Team USA's other entry, Lance Bade, 34, of Vancouver, Wash., finished fifth in the trap final.
(Tim Hipps works in the Army Community and Family Support Center Public Affairs Office.)