Military Olympians in London: Rifle Shooting, Greco-Roman Wrestling, 3-Meter Springboard
Four-time Olympian U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shooter Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker fires standing in the first round of the Olympic three-positions rifle competition, Aug. 6, 2012, at the Royal Artillery Barracks in London.
(Caution: If you are planning to watch the men’s 3-meter springboard final tonight, stop reading after the mention of Gold Medal winner Jamie Gray.)
Days 10 and 11 of the 2012 London Olympics have not been very good for our military Olympians.
On Monday, four-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker headed into the third round of the Olympic three-positions rifle competition just one shot out of medal contention, but finished 30th.
Michael Molinaro, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit:
Parker, a rifle shooter in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, was unable to overcome a rough start in the kneeling position and failed to qualify for the final round of the final shooting event of the 2012 London Games at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
After reeling off 12 consecutive nines, Parker stepped off the line, unhooked his jacket, and headed straight for his coach, U.S. National and U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program rifle coach Maj. Dave Johnson.
“I tried to figure out what I may have been missing,” Parker said. “We talked about some things the wind was doing, went back, and started shooting better.”
Parker tried to dig himself out of the hole, but it wasn’t enough during a match that saw two Olympic records set by Italy’s gold-medal-winner Nicco Campriani, who shot a qualification score of 1,180 and an overall score of 1,278.5, both new standards in the event.
Korea’s Jonghyun Kim won the silver medal after shooting 1,272.5 and Parker’s USA teammate, Matthew Emmons, won the bronze medal with 1,271.3 points.
Expectations for Parker were high entering the Olympics. He won the Italy World Cup in May and said he had been shooting really well during training leading up to the games. Most Olympic shooting events, though, are one-day affairs and even the world’s best can fall victim to an off day.
“I wanted to come represent the Army and the U.S. the best I could; that was number one,” Parker said. “And then, obviously, I wanted to come home with a gold medal. I had high expectations to make the final and be a contender for a medal. It’s really disappointing.”
After leaving his fourth Olympics still searching for an elusive medal, Parker said he will take the next few months to chart a new course as shooters start thinking about Rio de Janeiro in 2016. While he didn’t rule out taking a shot at his fifth games, Parker said he realizes it may be time for someone else to take their shot at glory.
It did not go much better for U.S. Army Greco-Roman wrestler Sgt. 1st Class Dremiel Byers who, on Monday, was eliminated from the men’s 120kg. Greco-Roman Olympic tournament.
Tim Hipps, Army Installation Management Command:
Byers defeated Uzbekistan’s Muminjon Adbullaev, 1-0, 1-0, before losing 1-0, 1-0 to reigning world champion Riza Kayaalp of Turkey in the quarterfinals.
Byers could not lift or turn Kayaalp from the par terre position in the first period, and the Turk pushed Byers out of bounds, and for all intent and purposes, out of the tournament in the second period.
Byers was officially eliminated from the tournament when three-time world champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Mijain Lopez of Cuba beat Kayaalp in the semifinals. Kayaalp, who defeated Lopez at the 2011 World Championship finals in Turkey, needed to reach the finals in London to pull Byers into the repechage and give him another shot at the bronze medal.
That plan did not work for Byers, who compared his performance here to his seventh-place finish in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Another four years of preparation, however, was not totally lost, Byers said.
“I gained a lot of hometown love and support, and I’m just carrying with that right now,” said Byers, 37, a native of Kings Mountain, N.C., who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. “That’s been the fuel behind a lot of this for me. I’m appreciative of Kings Mountain, everybody in North Carolina, and the Army for supporting me the way they have.
“None of this would be possible for me without the Army,” he continued. “The Army World Class Athlete Program has given me a life that very few people could even understand. It’s so wonderful to know that I’ve got people around me wearing the same uniform as me to support me as much as they do and teaching me to be a better person every day. I’m very fortunate for the United States Army and everything it’s given me.”
Today, Army Spc. Justin Lester, 29, of Akron, Ohio, lost two of his three 66 kg. Greco-Roman matches and failed to get a medal.
After winning a first-round bout and losing in the quarterfinals, Lester’s Olympics ended in the repechages (second-chance) round. Lester, a four-time Ohio state high school champion at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, needed to win twice more to win a bronze medal. He was destroyed in the repechages, 5-0, 5-0, by Frank Staebler, a 23-year-old German who was fifth in the world last year.
A couple of days ago we rejoiced when Jamie Gray, wife of U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shooter Staff Sgt. Hank Gray, won an Olympic gold medal in the women’s 50-meter rifle 3-positions event at the Royal Artillery Barracks in London.
Earlier we had mentioned that Capt. Justin Dumais, an F-16 pilot and a brother of Olympic diver Troy Dumais, was an alternate competitor in the men’s synchronized 3-meter springboard event.
While Justin Dumais did not have the opportunity to compete at the London Olympics, his younger brother, Troy, teamed with Kristian Ipsen last Wednesday to give the United States the bronze medal in the synchronized 3-meter springboard final in London.
Today, Troy Dumais made it all the way to the men’s 3-meter springboard final at the London Aquatics Centre in fifth place.
In the final, Dumais did not get a medal, but finished in a respectable fifth place. Ilya Zakharov of Russia won Gold, Qin Kai of China took silver and He Chong, the defending champion, settled for bronze.
Just as Gold Medal winner Jamie Gray is part of the Olympic military family, we are proud to include Troy Dumais in it and congratulate him on his performance.
There are two more military Olympians waiting to compete. They are:
• Spc. Dennis Bowsher, 29, of Dallas, who will compete in modern pentathlon, a five-sport event that includes fencing, and swimming, equestrian show jumping, cross country and laser pistol shooting all in the same day, August 11.
• Staff Sgt. John Nunn, a dental hygienist, who will compete in the 50-kilometer race-walk event in the Olympics, an event he has only competed in three times. He won the Olympic trials for the 50-kilometer racewalk and has competed in the 20-kilometer racewalk in the 2004 Olympics. He puts in 100 miles a week in training.
We wish them both success.