Pan American Games 2015 – Toronto, Canada

Team ELEY are here in Toronto Canada this week for the Pan American Games. Today was day one of the .22LR finals so we were looking forward to the 25m Men’s Rapid Fire and the 25m Women’s Pistol. The forecast for the day was a light breeze and temperatures in the low 20’s.

The 25m Men’s Rapid Fire was the first .22LR final to take place, and just six competitors made it to the Final: Gomez (Ven), Duerte (Bra), Alvarez (Cub), Balsley (USA), Pupo (Cub) and Milev (USA).

A lot was at stake here in all events with a chance to win a Quota place for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. Of the six finalists Cuba’s Pupo was the only athlete already to have bagged one of these valuable places, meaning it was five athletes for one quota place.
So with Olympic dreams and Pan American medals to be won we were perfectly poised for an exciting final. It did not disappoint and remained nail-biting right through to the end with the medal places swapping with every shot. It was five strings of five shots before the first of the eliminations and after a 6th place shoot off between Pupo and Alvarez it was Alvarez who was first to be eliminated.

The next round of eliminations saw Pupo score a perfect five and leapfrog USA’s Milev who subsequently took 5th place. The next elimination is always a tough one as it decides between a medal and 4th place; it was Cuba’s Pupo this time who was eliminated.

At this point Brad Balsley was in the Gold medal position followed by Gomez and Duerte who were tied. Balsley edged further ahead by shooting a perfect five, and a shoot off was required after both Duerte and Gomez scored three hits apiece. The shoot off saw Duerte score five hits to Gomez’s four leaving Gomez with the Bronze medal. The Brazilian faced the USA’s Brad Balsley head to head to decide the Silver and Gold medals, with the American holding a two shot lead after shooting consistently throughout the final.

ELEY-shooter-Brad-Balsley-Gold-medal1Balsley shot first and scored three hits leaving Duerte needing a perfect five to take it to a shoot off. Duerte also scored three hits so Brad Balsley took home the glory of the Gold medal and the Olympic quota place. This was Brad’s first international medal, made particularly poignant with his parents in the crowd.

Next up was the Women’s 25m Pistol. This final was made up of eight competitors, led by Mondol Cuellar (Col) with a score of 575, then Silva (USA) – 573, Nava (Mex) - 572, Kiejko (Can) - 571, Uptagrafft (USA) - 571, Hernandez (Cub) - 569, Perez Pena (Ecu) – 569 and Wachowich (Can) – 568.

The home crowd were naturally excited at the prospect of more medals for Canada with two athletes in the final eight. As the host nation Canada have dominated the score boards at the Pan American Games with 33 Golds and 82 medals at this point… with more sporting events to come.

The crowd were not to be disappointed with both Kiejko and Wachowich shooting well. After the first five series it was Hernandez who was eliminated in 8th position, followed by Cuellar in 7th and Silva in 6th. A shoot off was required to decide 5th between Mariana Nava and Andrea Perez Pena, with Nava scoring four hits to Perez Pena’s one.

This meant only four athletes remained and yes, both Canadian athletes were still in the competition. The final at this point was split into two head to head matches and Nava and Wachowich competed in the Bronze match first. The match format is the first to seven points in the individual five shot matches, with two points awarded for a win, one point for a draw and zero for a loss. Nava shot well throughout and won the Bronze match 7-3 leaving Canada’s Wachowich taking the 4th place position.

On to the Gold medal match. At this point USA’s Sandra Uptagrafft was already in possession of an Olympic quota place with Canada’s Lynda Kiejko also having already earned one. This final had the crowd cheering throughout with the first two matches being tied, meaning both athletes took 1 point each. It was in the third match that Canada’s own Lynda Kiejko edged ahead. She maintained this to the fifth series where she clinched the Gold medal with a seven-three win over Uptagrafft.

Continuing on in what has been a successful season so far for ELEY athletes, it was another excellent day with ELEY ammunition being used to win five out of the six medals today.