Written by USA Shooting
|Four-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Glenn Eller from Houston earned an elusive gold medal yesterday in Double Trap competition at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup taking place in Gabala, Azerbaijan.
Given his history of success in the sport that includes an Olympic gold medal and three other Olympic opportunities along with 14 World Cup and four World Championship medals, it is hard to believe that it’s been eight years since Eller last won a World Cup gold medal winning both World Cup Changwon and the World Cup Final in 2007 ahead of his 2008 Olympic gold-medal run.
Eller’s win made it three medals in three competitions for the U.S. Shotgun Team as part of the extensive World Cup event that includes over 1,100 competitors taking part in all three Olympic shooting disciplines. Skeet shooter Morgan Craft (Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania) got the medal streak started Saturday with a silver medal while two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia) earned both gold and an Olympic nomination Sunday.
Not pleased with his most recent performance at the 2015 Pan American Games which saw him finish fourth, Eller put in even more training time than usual in lead-up to Gabala. His father, Butch, estimates he probably went through 6,000 targets during that intensive training spell with many days leading to exhaustion by days end. The payoff came today and perhaps later this year as Eller got himself into position to qualify a spot on his fifth Olympic Team through USA Shooting’s Olympic Points System. Assuming both Olympic quotas have been secured which is the case in Double Trap, USA Shooting shotgun athletes must meet the Olympic points threshold of 30 with top performances in 2015 World Cups and the Shotgun World Championships. The top points earner thereafter gets an automatic nomination to the 2016 Olympic Team. With the win, Eller now leads in Olympic points, 25 to 20, over his USAMU teammate Derek Haldeman (Sunbury, Ohio). Eller needs to finish sixth or better at World Championships to reach the threshold, while Haldeman will need to finish fourth or better.
Eller, 33, a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), was the top qualifier Tuesday connecting on 145 of 150 targets. Eller would then shoot an impressive 29/30 targets in the semifinal only to be tied with four other competitors. He would prevail throughout the subsequent shoot-offs to pair with Great Britain’s Steven Scott in the gold-medal match. Once there, Eller shot to perfection with a 30-for-30 round to win by four targets.
“I feel really good,” says Eller. “It’s been a while since I’ve been up on the top of the podium, so it’s nice to be back. One thing when you shoot a 29 in a final [is that] you’re not expecting a five-way shoot-off to get in the gold medal match. Hu Binyuan [China] shot a 29 and came in sixth. I mean, that’s gotta be a little tough to swallow. I knew I had the ability [to win a gold]. I’ve been shooting really great scores in the last two to three years. It’s just [that] sometimes it’s tough–you got a lot of great competitors out here. They train just as hard as we do, but it’s nice to be on top.”
Haldeman finished 12th with 140 targets hit, leaving him two targets shy of finals qualification. Chris Wilkoski (Centerburg, Ohio) was 24th with a 136.
In other results, James Henderson (USAMU/Midland, Georgia) was the top finisher in Free Pistol at 13th with a 559. Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho) scored a 556 to finish 22nd while Brian Beaman (Selby, South Dakota) shot a 551 and finished 31st. Brown, a fourth-place finisher at World Cup Munich earlier this season, shot a second-best Elimination score of 565 a day earlier, a mark that would have left him in tied for fourth Tuesday. In Sport Pistol, Brenda Silva was 31st with a 575, Enkelejda Shehaj (Naples, Florida) was 57th with a 568 and Cara Krauss (Bristol, Vermont) was 78th with a 553. Also of note today, John Joss (USAMU/Corsicana, Texas), a Paralympic rifle shooter, achieved his Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) for Olympic competition during the Elimination portion of Men’s Prone Rifle shooting a 615.0. An MQS ensures he could participate in the Olympic Games should he compete and earn a spot within the United States. Three-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey) tied for the second-best score in Elimination with a 625.8.