A new finals hall at Fort Benning was the key change at the 2015 ISSF World Cup in the USA. Athletes were not only competing for medals, but also for much needed Olympic Quota places for Rio 2016. This was one of the biggest matches held in the United States with 76 countries and over 600 athletes competing.
The first event up was Women’s 25m Pistol where there was a tight race to make it to the medal rounds. We would see Zhang (CHN) and Lamolle (FRA) battle against one another for the Bronze, and Otryad (MGL) and Boneva (BUL) shoot head to head for the Gold. Zhang dominated over Lamolle to take home the Bronze, however Lamolle didn’t go away empty handed as she secured a 2016 Olympic Quota place for France. In the Gold medal match Otryad was determined to take the top step of the podium outshooting Boneva 7-1. Boneva secured the other 2016 Olympic Quota place for Bulgaria with her performance on the day.
In the Men’s 50m pistol event Damir Mikec qualified in the fourth position for the final, yet during the final he led from the first series to the finish bringing home the Gold for Serbia and a 2016 Olympic Quota place. Jin Jong-oh once again walked away with a medal winning the Silver and later in the World Cup dominating men’s Air Pistol and winning Gold. In the late rounds James Henderson (USA) fired an unfortunate 6.8 to take fourth while Xuan Vinh Hoang held on to the Bronze. James Henderson secured the second Olympic Quota place in his very first World Cup final. All the finalists for the 50m Pistol event chose to trust ELEY to secure medals and Quota places.
The next .22LR event was men’s 50m Prone where Mike McPhail of the USA used his knowledge of his home range to lead the qualification round, only missing a world record by .4 points. He fought through the final to find the top step of the podium and an Olympic Quota place. Ole Bryhn started off the final on fire to gain what in Men’s Prone would be considered a big lead, but after firing multiple 9s in a row was surpassed by McPhail and won the Silver. Gagan Narang used his experience to best Bojan Durkovic by just one tenth of a point to earn the Bronze and an Olympic Quota place for India. For the third event in a row ELEY swept the podium with all three medalists shooting ELEY tenex.
With only one athlete holding an Olympic Quota slot in the Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event, the final was bound to be a good one. World ranked number one Oliver Geis of Germany gradually took the lead and proved he is the world’s best by winning the Gold. Yuehong Li of China and Leuris Pupo of Cuba had to shoot-off to avoid elimination and for an Olympic Quota place; Pupo bested Li to stay in for another series of the final. Reitz secured the Bronze and Germany’s second Olympic Quota in this event by being only one hit ahead of Pupo going into the Bronze series, as Reitz fired for 1 hit in the series to Pupo’s 4 hits. Pupo fought his way through the final to win a Silver, as Germany proves once again they are a dominant force in Rapid Fire Pistol.
Before the first shot was fired in the Women’s 3 Position Rifle final many Olympic Quota places had already been decided with six of the eight women already having quotas from previous events. The two athletes who secured Quotas for their country were Amy Sowash of the USA and Yelizaveta Korol of Kazakhstan. Jin Chang brought home China’s first Gold medal in Fort Benning by dominating the final round from the kneeling stage and setting a new Finals World Record. Although world number one Serbia’s Snjezana Pejcic tied the world record to enter the final, she would have to settle for the Silver medal - her fourth medal of four chances in World Cups so far this year. Barbara Engleder of Germany would claim the Bronze after being overtaken by Pejcic in the early stages of standing.
The final .22LR event of the World Cup USA, Men’s 3 Position, would keep spectators on the edge of their seats as Kazakhstan’s Yuriy Yurkov entered his very first World Cup final not only earning an Olympic Quota place, but also claiming the top step of the podium by firing an impressive 10.7 on his last shot. The reigning world champion and veteran shooter, Qinan Zhu of China, fired a surprising 7.5 on the last shot to take home the Silver medal. The USA’s Matt Emmons would find the podium for the second time in two World Cups in the Men’s 3 Position securing the Bronze medal. Japan’s Toshikazu Yamashita secured the second Olympic Quota place in this event, the fourth in which ELEY swept the podium.
After an exciting event with a brand new finals hall and hot weather ELEY helped 14 of 18 medalists in the .22LR competitions prove their skills on the range. Without much rest the athletes will reunite again in Munich, Germany on May 26 for the third Rifle and Pistol World Cup of 2015.