The first day of competition at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Fort Benning opened on a promising note for the U.S. team with 2016 Olympic gold medalist Ginny Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia) posting a world-class Qualification score to qualify for her first Final since 2016.
Thrasher qualified for the Women’s Air Rifle Final in seventh place with a world-class score of 627.4, but with eventual silver medalist Yingjie Zhu of China posting a world-record Qualification score of 633.4, the competition at this World Cup was proving to be fierce.
“I feel like lately I’ve had really good technique, good equipment and really good positions, but I feel like it hasn’t translated yet to the matches,” said Thrasher. “I felt like today was a great step in the right direction to just let go and perform. I did the right things, I came off the line, and when I got back I fixed my NPA and went back shooting the best I could. Found that rhythm and ended up shooting really deep [high, 10-point scores] for a long time.”
Once in the Final, the trio of Chinese athletes shot to the front of the pack early in the first few strings of shots. Though Thrasher’s last shot in the Final was a 10.8, it wasn’t enough to overcome the lead put forth by the eventual Chinese medalists and Thrasher finished in fifth place.
“In the Final, I felt like I had good technique and I was executing well, but it was very, very competitive,” Thrasher said. “I was shooting a lot of tens, just most of them weren’t quite deep enough. You’re in a Final, you get nervous and your hold gets bigger. I’m really excited to be in that position more, be in more Finals and work on it, but I think I handled it very well. You’re competing against the best athletes in the world and I’m just happy to be there. Being able to do that on home turf in the USA is an amazing feeling too. It has a little different feel of an international World Cup, but it’s so great to be here.”
Also competing in Women’s Air Rifle, Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pennsylvania) finished in 26th place (621.7) and Elizabeth Gratz (Siegel, Illinois) finished in 34th place (618.4).
Mingyang Wu of China won gold and Ruozhu Zhao, also of China, won bronze.
In Men’s Air Pistol, 18-year-old Jack Leverett III (Bainbridge, Georgia) was the top finisher for the U.S. in 28th place with a score of 570. James Hall (Anniston, Alabama) finished in 46th place with a score of 562 and Jason Herndon (Missoula, Montana) finished in 49th place with a score of 558.
The first of two stages (Precision) was contested today in the Women’s Sport Pistol event. Brenda Silva (Snowflake, Arizona) scored a 288, 2012 Olympian Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Alabama) scored a 287 and 17-year-old Katelyn Abeln (Douglasville, Georgia) scored a 277. Finals in this event and the Rapid Fire stage will be contested tomorrow.
Competition continues tomorrow with the Men’s Three-Position Rifle and Women’s Sport Pistol Qualifications and Finals. The ISSF World Cup for Rifle and Pistol concludes on May 15. More than 350 athletes from 53 nations are competing at this event in the 10 Olympic Rifle and Pistol events. A complete listing of start lists, events and results can be found: http://www.issf-sports.org/competitions/venue.ashx?cshipid=2392.