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Team USA Soldiers Strive for Olympic Medals

By Tim Hipps and Mary Beth Vorwerk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2008 – While soldiers who have competed so far as part of Team USA in Beijing have fallen short of medal performances, more opportunities are scheduled throughout the upcoming week.

In the Men's 10-Meter Air Rifle event over the weekend, two-time Olympian and U.S. Army Marksmanship member Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker placed 23rd with a total score of 591, while 19-year old West Point Cadet Stephen Scherer took the 27th spot with 590.

Parker will compete Sunday in the Men's 50-Meter Three Position Rifle, his second event of the 2008 Olympic Games. Sunday is the final day of the shooting competition.

On Tuesday, soldiers will compete in the men's 50m Free Pistol event and the Double Trap event at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall and the Beijing Shooting Range Clay Target Field.

Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski, a three-time Olympian, will be competing for the USA in Men's Free Pistol. Szarenski claimed the Bronze Medal at the "Good Luck Beijing" 2008 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in April, which was the first World Cup medal won by a U.S. shooter in Men's Free Pistol since 2000.

USAMU teammates Spc. Glenn Eller, a two-time Olympian, and Spc. Jeff Holguin, who will be competing for the USA on his first Olympic team, will be vying for spots on the podium on the Men's Double Trap event.

Both shooters have been extremely successful recently on the international level. Eller claimed the Gold Medal at the 2007 Korea World Cup as well as the 2007 World Cup Final. He also took the Silver Medal at the 2008 "Good Luck Beijing" ISSF World Cup. Holguin claimed the Silver in Men's Double Trap at the 2007 Pan-American Games and won the Bronze Medal at the World Cup USA this past May.

WCAP shooter Staff Sgt. Keith Sanderson, 33, of San Antonio, is scheduled to compete Saturday in the 25-meter rapid fire pistol event.

Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Elizabeth "Libby" Callahan, 56, of Columbia, S.C., will make her fourth Olympic appearance in the women's sport pistol event Wednesday.

USAMU shotgun shooter Pfc. Vincent Hancock, 19, of Eatonton, Ga., set a world record in every skeet-shooting event at age 18. He will toe the line Saturday in Beijing.

U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program Greco-Roman heavyweight wrestler Staff Sgt. Dremiel Byers will compete in the 264.5-pound weight class Thursday.

Byers, a world champion in 2002, is accompanied in China by WCAP teammate and training partner Spc. Timothy Taylor, whom Byers defeated in the Olympic team trials.

"I was at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and Glenn Eller was in Houston shooting by himself," said Holguin, who joined USAMU in the spring of 2007. "All of us are now shooting together in the marksmanship unit with great competition day in and out among us, and it's just improved all of our games.

"The hardest part of this Olympic experience is waiting for the day to get here. I wanted to compete at the highest level of clay target shooting. To do that, I had to commit myself to the sport. The U.S. Army and the USAMU have given me the necessary resources to compete and win at the level required to win an Olympic medal."

As Holguin makes his Olympic debut, Eller, who joined the Army in 2006, will be competing in this third Olympics. He placed 17th in 2004 and 12th in 2000.

"Growing up, I always wanted to be an Olympian," Eller said. "The Olympics were greater in every aspect than I had anticipated, both in highs and lows. The emotions involved are so great because of the years of training that go into that one day of competition."

WCAP boxing coach retired Staff Sgt. Basheer Abdullah, the U.S. head coach in the Athens Games, will serve as a technical advisor for Team USA.

WCAP boxer Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Downs won Team USA's light heavyweight spot at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Houston but did not get the weight class qualified to compete in Beijing. He made the trip to China to serve as a training partner. WCAP fencer Spc. Cody Nagengast is also serving as a training partner for Team USA's squad.

(Mary Beth Vorwerk is with Shooting USA, and Tim Hipps, is with the U.S. Army Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command)

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