Would you believe one of the most dramatic events I ever covered was an Olympic shooting final? Believe it.
This is another one of those sports in which the Olympic program has changed a bit over the years, but not in this Olympic cycle. That’s good for those of us who like a bit of consistency.
The ISSF (shooting’s federation) has a handy updated guide to help us all navigate through the confusing quota system they use for qualification.
We had full World Championships in 2010, with shotgun-only World Championships to come in September.
Quick programming note: Yes, swimming is next on the list. But the World Championships are about to start, so don’t be alarmed if we skip that for the moment.
50m prone: These events are the ultimate test of focus. Nothing to do here but shoot perfectly, over and over. Qualifying for the eight-shooter final usually requires a score of 594 out of a possible 600. That’s 60 shots, with no more than six going a tiny bit wide of center. In the final, they add smaller rings and decimal scores. The USA’s Matt Emmons, despite the unlikely mishaps that have cost him gold medals in the three-position, is remarkably consistent in this event — gold in Athens 2004, silver in 2008, bronze in the 2010 Worlds. Belarus’s Sergei Martynov has the world title and the top spot in the rankings. France’s Valerian Sauveplane was second in 2010, fourth in the rankings. The USA has two of the top 10 — Eric Uptagrafft made the 2010 final and is ranked second, ahead of Emmons (seventh) — as does Germany.
2008: Artur Ayvazian (Ukraine), Matt Emmons (USA), Warren Potent (Australia)
Projection: Belarus, USA, France
Top Americans: Uptagrafft and Emmons.
50m three-position: Curiously, only two shooters are ranked in the top 10 in both prone and three-position — Emmons (eighth) and Hungary’s top-rated Peter Sidi, who’s 10th in prone. We’re seeing a changing of the guard here, with virtually no 2008 finalist other than Emmons still in the top rankings. Sidi has the world title and No. 1 ranking. South Korea’s Han Jin-seop was second at Worlds and third in the rankings, just behind China’s Zhu Qinan. China has two of the top 10, neither of them the 2008 gold medalist Qiu Jian.
2008: Qiu Jian (China), Jury Sukhorukov (Ukraine), Rajmond Debevec (Slovenia)
Projection: Hungary, South Korea, China
Top Americans: Emmons
10m air rifle: Italy’s Niccolo Campriani has the world title and a sizable rankings lead of the ubiquitous Sidi. Next up are two Chinese shooters — Zhu (contending in a second discipline; he took a silver medal here in 2008) and Wang Tao. Though India’s Gagan Narang placed third in Worlds, it’s a steep drop down the rest of the rankings.
2008: Abhinav Bindra (India), Zhu Qinan (China), Henri Häkkinen (Finland)
Projection: Italy, Hungary, China
Top Americans: Once again, it’s Emmons — he made the World finals and was 0.5 points away from the podium.
50m three-position: The USA’s Jamie Beyerle leads the world rankings despite finishing fifth in Worlds. Germany’s Barbara Lechner and Sonia Pfeilschifter finished 1-2 in Worlds, and a third German, Eva Friedel, reached the final. China has two shooters in the top 10, neither of them 2008 gold medalist Du Li.
2008: Du Li (China), Katerina Emmons (Czech Republic), Eglis Yaima Cruz (Cuba)
Projection: USA, Germany, China
Top Americans: Beyerle’s lead in the rankings is substantial.
10m air rifle: After his stunning miss in the 2004 three-position final, Matt Emmons was consoled by a young Czech Republic shooter. A couple of years later, they were married. In 2008, Katy Emmons won gold and silver in her events. Matt won a silver to go with his 2004 gold, then had another stunning miss. Once again, the Emmons family grew — Katy gave birth to a daughter in April 2009. She has returned to competition and is back up to eighth in the rankings. China has dominated recent podiums — Yi Siling won the world title and has a huge lead in the rankings over world runner-up Wu Liuxi. The German contingent also ranks highly, and the Czech Republic has a second shooter in the top 10.
2008: Katerina Emmons (Czech Republic), Lioubov Galkina (Russia), Snježana Pejčić (Croatia)
Projection: China, Germany, Czech Republic
Top Americans: Can we count Emmons? In any case, young American Sarah Scherer ranks seventh, and Meghann Morrill made the final at Worlds.
50m pistol: Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsuda won the world title by 4.5 points and has nearly doubled the nearest shooter’s ranking points. South Korea’s Lee Daem-Yung was second in Worlds and a close third behind Serbia’s Andrija Zlatic in the rankings. He’s one of two Korean shooters in the top 10. Italy also has a couple.
2008: Jin Jong-Oh (South Korea), Tan Zongliang (China), Vladimir Isakov (Russia) – North Korea’s Kim Jong-Su was stripped of his silver for a doping violation. Seriously. The case roused Scientific American’s curiosity.
Projection: Japan, South Korea, Italy
Top Americans: Daryl Szarenski is the only over-40 member of the world rankings’ top 10. He finished sixth in Worlds.
10m air pistol: Matsuda owns this world title, too, but it’s considerably closer — he made up a four-point gap in the final to beat Zlatic by 0.2 points, with South Korea’s Jin Jong-Oh reprising his Olympic success to finish another tenth of a point back. Zlatic actually has the rankings lead ahead of Matsuda, both well ahead of Turkey’s Yusef Dikec.
2008: Pang Wei (China), Jin Jong-Oh (South Korea), Jason Turner (USA) – Turner inherited the bronze when Kim Jong-Su … yep, same doping case.
Projection: Serbia, Japan, South Korea
Top Americans: Szarenski was 20th at Worlds.
25m rapid-fire pistol: The top four at Worlds — Russia, China, China, Russia. And yet Germany’s Christian Reitz leads the rankings ahead of world champion Alexei Klimov. China’s podium finishers are ranked fourth (Jian Zhang) and 10th (Li Yuehong).
2008: Oleksandr Petriv (Ukraine), Ralf Schumann (Germany), Christian Reitz (Germany)
Projection: Germany, Russia, China
Top Americans: Keith Sanderson is ranked sixth, and Brad Balsley placed 10th at Worlds.
25m pistol: The rankings say China 1-2; the World Championship results say Eastern Europe 1-2-3 (Russia, Serbia, Czech Republic).
2008: Chen Ying (China), Otryadyn Gündegmaa (Mongolia), Munkhbayer Dorjsuren (Germany)
Projection: China, Russia, Czech Republic
Top Americans: Sandra Uptagrafft placed 47th at Worlds.
10m air pistol: More consistency here – Serbia’s Zorana Arunovic has the world title and the No. 1 ranking. No. 3 Viktoria Chaika (Belarus) and No. 4 Lalita Yauhleuskaya (Australia) tied for second at Worlds. (Yauhleuskaya was born in Russia and has been competing for more than 30 years.) No. 2 Olena Kostevych (Ukraine) had a rough time at Worlds.
2008: Guo Wenjun (China), Natalia Paderina (Russia), Nino Salukvadze (Georgia)
Projection: Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus
Top Americans: Uptagrafft was eighth at Worlds.
Trap: Alberto Fernandez (Spain) took the world title just ahead of 2008 bronze medalist Alexey Alipov (Russia). Flip those two, and you have the world rankings. It’s a little muddled after that, with most of the top 10 in the rankings failing to make the World Championship final. The exception is the Czech Republic’s Jiri Liptak, which is enough to close out our projection.
2008: David Kostelecky (Czech Republic), Giovanni Pellielo (Italy), Alexey Alipov (Russia)
Projection: Russia, Spain, Czech Republic
Top Americans: Jacob Turner made the final at Worlds, finishing sixth.
Double trap: An American stronghold here — Glenn Eller won gold in 2008, Joshua Richmond has the world title and No. 1 spot in the rankings, and Jeffrey Holguin was fourth in Worlds. Russia has a couple of contenders — Vitaly Fokeev is a close third in the rankings, and Vasily Mosin took second in Worlds. India’s Ronjan Sodhi is a very close second in the rankings despite a poor finish at Worlds. Host Britain has two in the top 10.
2008: Glenn Eller (USA), Francesco D’Aniello (Italy), Hu Binyuan (China)
Projection: USA, Russia, India
Top Americans: Three legit contenders.
Skeet: Vincent Hancock won gold at age 19 and appears to be taking some time off as a new parent. He finished fifth at Worlds but isn’t in the top 10 of the rankings. Silver medalist Tore Brovold is No. 1 in the rankings, followed by two guys from Cyprus who finished 3-4 at Worlds. Next is world champ Valery Shomin (Russia) and another American, Jon McGrath.
2008: Vincent Hancock (USA), Tore Brovold (Norway), Anthony Terras (France)
Projection: Norway, Cyprus, USA
Top Americans: Two legit contenders.
Trap: Zuzana Štefečeková (Slovakia) has the 2008 silver medal and the 2010 world title, and yet she’s not ranked in the top 10. Go figure. No. 1 is Italy’s Jessica Rossi, who finished in a tie for third at Worlds with countrywoman Deborah Gelisio. No. 2 is surely San Marino’s best hope for any Olympic medal, Alessandra Perilli.
2008: Satu Mäkelä-Nummela (Finland), Zuzana Štefečeková (Slovakia), Corey Cogdell (USA)
Projection: Slovakia, Italy, San Marino
Top Americans: Rachael Lynn Heiden is ranked fourth; 2008 bronze medalist Corey Cogdell was eighth at Worlds.
Skeet: All hail the much-decorated American shooter Kim Rhode, who went gold-bronze-gold in three Olympics in the the now-retired double trap event, then focused on skeet to win silver in 2008 and the 2010 world title. And she’s still barely in her 30s. For once, the top three at Worlds are also the top three in the rankings — Rhode, Wei Ning (China), Danka Bartekova (Slovakia).
2008: Chiara Cainero (Italy), Kim Rhode (USA), Christine Brinker (Germany)
Projection: USA, China, Slovakia
Top Americans: Two kids born in the 90s are rapidly climbing — Caitlin Connor is ranked fourth, Jaiden Grinnell seventh.